Friday, August 31, 2018

September News

From Gene Burnett

Fall is fast approaching and couldn’t come a day too soon in Southern Oregon. We could all use some rain to put our local fires as well as clean up the air. It’s been hit and miss lately with some days being quite smoky and others pretty wonderful. But the days are steadily getting cooler and it won’t be long before we get some much needed rain. The smoke was so bad that many Oregon Shakespeare Festival shows had to be cancelled or moved to a much smaller venue. Local businesses have been hurt by the smoke as well. OSF was hurt so badly that they actually cancelled the remaining Green Shows for September and October, including the one I had scheduled for October 12th. But, lucky for me, they contacted me in August to fill in for someone who couldn’t make it. I was happy to oblige and even though it was smoky and the show was moved indoors where I played for around 100 people instead of several hundred, it was still a great show for me, the best of the year easily, maybe the best in a few years. It was such a treat to play for a listening audience. There is so much dynamically that I just can’t do in a noisy room where there is no silence or space behind what I’m doing. I don’t mind playing noisy rooms, I know how to do it, it’s fun, and it’s still music, which I love making, but I much prefer a quiet audience. The festival also videoed the show and let me post it which was a great bonus. Another musical highlight this month was playing a couple of songs at the “Buck Owens Birthday Bash” at the Wild Goose Café & Bar here in Ashland. It was a blast in a different way. See links below in the “Videos” section of this newsletter.

I posted 4 new videos last month, 2 T’ai-Chi videos and 2 new music videos. See links below in Videos section.

My latest album “Thunder Moon”, along with over 30 others, is available for downloading or listening free or with a donation here: Musical Recordings Page

So here we go…I’m going to start with local shows in case you’re in the Rogue Valley and then proceed with the usual information about where to find my music, videos, and pictures, including information about new projects.

There is so much to listen to and watch on the net these days…I’m amazed anyone even gets this far in the newsletter let alone watches or listens to anything I’m doing. I’m sincerely grateful for every view, every listen, and every nice comment I receive. I’m happy if anything I post truly reaches even one person. I’m offering all this stuff in a “just in case you’re interested” spirit.

Upcoming Shows:

Saturday, September 1st, weather permitting, I'll be playing at The Lithia Artisan's Market, from 2:30-4:30pm, behind the Plaza in Ashland. Come support local music and art!

Wednesday September 5th, I'll be hosting my regular Themed Open Mike at The Wild Goose Café & Bar. Usually this happens on the First Wednesday of every month. This month's theme, in honor of Labor Day, is “Songs About Work & Working” so musicians and spoken word artists will be doing songs and poems, covers or originals, that mention or are about this theme in any way. We’re never too strict or narrow about the themes for this event. The main idea is to focus our attention a little to hopefully inspire and motivate us creatively. These are always fun community events. No Cover at the friendliest bar in Ashland. Sign-up is 7:30pm. Show starts at 8:00pm.
*A heads up for next month: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018: “Country (ish) Songs”

Saturday, September 15th, from 10am-Noon, my good friend Jesse Biesanz and I are hosting a Hacky Sack session outside the former Caldera Tap House on Water Street in Ashland. We’ll be under the overpass. This usually happens on the third Saturday of every month but this month we’re doing it on the 2nd Saturday. We both miss the fun and camaraderie of a good friendly Hack Circle and…more importantly, we miss the practice! It’s fun, aerobic, cooperative, demands balance, coordination, quick thinking and accuracy…So whether you’re new to the game, or an experienced player who wants to brush up your skills, or an expert who just wants to meet some new players, come on by. Hacky Sack basically involves keeping a small footbag in the air, usually leather and fairly soft, using only your feet. When there are more than two players, it’s usually played in a circle. If the circle gets too big, it is split into smaller circles.

The only rules of this Hack Circle:

1. You’ve got to use your feet to keep the sack in the air and off the ground. No hands! (10 voluntary pushups if you do)

2. If you miss or otherwise screw up, you can’t say, “I’m Sorry.” (10 voluntary pushups if you do)

3. No serving to yourself. (10 voluntary pushups if you do)

4. No hotdogging. Meaning this is not about how many tricks you can do before the sack hits the ground, and it’s not about working obsessively on tricks. Tricks are fine but in general, we want to keep the hack going as a friendly group and keep everyone involved.

See you at Caldera rain or shine. The overpass provides shelter from the rain and once the circle gets going, you’ll be plenty warm regardless of the weather.

Saturday, September 22nd, I'll be at The Downtowne Coffeehouse in Talent, playing original music from 10am-Noon. Great acoustics, super friendly neighborhood scene.

For more info about these and all of my shows, and to confirm that there have been no cancellations, click here: Calendar  

Since I'm putting this newsletter out once a month, it's possible there may be a cancellation of a given show by the time it happens. Please double check with my web calendar if possible to be sure the gig is still happening. I'd hate to have you come out for nothing. Also another gig or two might be added or times or locations might change, so do check the calendar for the latest info.  

Recorded Music

All of my over 30 albums are available for downloading free or with a donation at my website:

Videos In General

Overall Mission: I post a lot of videos on youtube, over 1000 so far! I'm not trying to build a fan base...In fact, I'm not trying to build anything. I'm not expecting you or anyone else to follow what I'm doing or watch all of these videos. Posting videos is just part of my overall plan to make my music (and my T’ai-Chi and Nature videos too) as freely available as possible and see what freely comes back. I think of each video as sort of like a message in a bottle...and more I toss out there the more likely one of them will land on a friendly shore and something good will come back to me.

A Note on Monetization: I won’t be able to monetize my videos on youtube anymore. Monetization seems to be an option youtube wants to reserve for bigger more ambitions channels. I’ve always had mixed feelings about having ads on my videos, so to some extent, this is actually a bit of a relief. On the other hand, it was nice to make a little money from my videos and nice to think of “views” as adding slightly to my income. But such is life. I’m happy to be rolling free and clear of ads. With the help of some savvy facebook friends, I was able to ad this paragraph to the descriptions on all of my videos at once:

I hope this video has been helpful to you or touched you in some way that leaves you a little better off for having watched it. This is not a big time channel and I have no plans for it to become one. I’m too small to have ads on my videos and I’ve always had mixed feelings about them anyway. If you would like to support and encourage what I do here, you can make a donation to me directly via paypal. No donation is too small, (or too big!) and all donations are very much appreciated.

So here are some video links in case you're interested:

How to Find My Videos: First of all, I've set up a "Videos" page on my website ( with a menu similar to what you see below as well as a digital tip jar in case any of you want to contribute to my cottage industry. Every little bit helps and not just financially. 

I've also set up some blogs that make navigating and viewing my various videos much easier. You can go to any of these blogs and see thumbnails for all of the videos posted there. Scroll across the thumbnails and you will see the titles of each video. Click on it and a page will open that will let you watch the video right there without going to youtube. My latest videos are always in the upper left hand corner.

To see all of my Music videos in one easy to navigate place, click here: The Unforced Videos

To see all of my T'ai-Chi videos in one easy to navigate place, click here: The Unforced Movement

To see all of my Nature videos in one easy to navigate place, click here: The Unforced Nature

For a quick and easy way to sort through, listen to, or download all of my albums free or with a donation, click here: The Unforced Music

To see my regular blog “The Unforced Life”, click here: The Unforced Life

To visit my youtube channel and possibly subscribe, click here: My Youtube Channel

To see all of my youtube playlists click here: My Youtube Playlists 

New Videos

2 new T’ai-Chi videos:

2 new Misc. videos:

Album playlists:


I've stopped posting as many pictures on facebook, (for many reasons), and started posting them instead on Flickr, which I like much better.

Here's a link to my "home page" at Flicker: Photostream.

I have many photo galleries there but a few of my favorites are:

Small Miracles (mostly Nature related stuff)

The Dish Whisperer (I started posting a daily picture of my dish stacking work over a year ago. I recently crossed the 2000 straight days mark. I have no idea how long I’ll keep doing this. I’m so used to it, it hardly takes any effort at all to continue. I made a video for my song “I'll Do The Dishes Tonight” that featured a slideshow of the first year.

"Head" and "Boot" (devoted to our two gerbils RIP)


I continue to offer all of my albums for downloading, free or with a donation at my website: I started doing this about 10 years ago and considered it a 5 year creative experiment. Well the 5 years passed and I decided to start calling it my "ongoing creative experiment" as I have no plans to stop. Since I returned to my folk roots and stopped climbing, or trying to climb, the industry ladder, I've been enjoying music in my life more than ever before. And enjoyment, rather than achievement or worldly success has always been dearest to my heart anyway. So now I focus totally on what I love most: writing, recording, performing and sharing what I create. If other people like it, so much the better, but getting other people to like me or what I do is no longer my goal or focus. I'm out to please myself first. I want to do my music exactly the way I want to do it and see who likes it that way, not figure out what people will like and try to do it that way. I put it out there freely and see what comes freely back. So far so good. I've never had more success and appreciation than I have since I started doing it this. Go figure. 

Thanks, as usual, for your support and well wishes even if you don't make to any shows.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Norm Macdonald

At the San Jose Improv, August 2018
This past Saturday my buddy and I drove down to San Jose to see Norm Macdonald at the San Jose Improv. It’s about 6 hours from Ashland to San Jose but it was totally worth it.
We’ve been surrounded by various forest fires this summer and our air has been fair to hazardous every day depending on the wind. But the air was great down there and my lungs recovered almost instantly.
We had tickets for both of his Saturday night shows and they were both really great. And I’m really glad we got to see both as they were similar but not the same. Norm is one of my very favorite comedians so this was sort of a bucket list check off for me.
We stayed at the Marriot just a few blocks from the show and that was cool too. No in town driving or any of that shit. We just checked in and walked around the neighborhood. We got in line at the Improv at 4:30. The doors opened at 5:30, so we were second in line and ended up right at the stage just a few feet from Norm! Really cool. I'd never been to a comedy club before. All the many comedy shows I'd seen were in concert venues and to be right up close was fantastic. I mean, he was looking at right at me at times and I felt like he was really looking, not show-biz looking which was very cool.
The first show was a dinner crowd and second more of a drinking crowd. The first show, he had some time pressure and the second show not so much so he could relax a bit more. Really really great stuff...funny, smart, absurd, philosophical...especially the second show. It was totally worth the money and the driving...and since we didn't go to Bandon for a T’ai-Chi retreat this year, it served as a bit of a vacation. 
As a student of comedy it was great to not only laugh at a master comedian but also great to see how he worked, especially over two shows. My sense was that he had some things he wanted to talk about but no set “act”. Some of the jokes he repeated but the timing would change, sometimes even the punch line was different. He’s just so funny and so relaxed and confident in his delivery, he could talk about practically anything and make it kill. The overriding theme seemed to be the inevitability of death and suffering but he talked about all kinds of stuff. Most of it was offensive. Unless of course, you like comedy. We laughed our asses off.
My buddy has an Audi so the driving both ways was smooooooth. On Saturday morning we started off smoky as hell, passed through a few different smoke zones from different fires, but then we got down far enough south and the smoke disappeared which was great. But man. Ho. Lee. Shit. The traffic down here was just nuts. Five or six lanes each way, people driving like maniacs, and as we got closer to San Jose and Silicon Valley, so many BMW's, Mercedes, and expensive sports cars, including Ferraris. Just a huge amount of money down there. And once in the city, very multi-ethnic, especially the downtown scene where the club was. Everyone seemed to be getting along fine though. It was party central down there when we finally got out after the second show. Expensive cars, people lined up outside of clubs, music throbbing, all that shit. Fun to take a peek at, but I am no longer a city-boy in any way. I hardly go to cities anymore. Just briefly once or twice every year or so. I can't even believe I used to live in New York City or even Seattle. We crashed hard in our hotel room and got up the next morning for the drive back.
It was a great little trip and it was also great to get back home safe and sound, even if the air was pretty lousy with smoke once again. After a brief pit stop, I got on my bike and rode out to the regular Sunday night open mike at the Wild Goose Café & Bar, had a great set and rode back home and slept like a rock.
Final note: The San Jose Improv is a great place to see comedy. The room is good sized, seats over 400, but is still intimate and cozy. No bad seats really. The staff was friendly, the food and drinks were good and the general vibe was positive and lively. They had a deal that with certain drinks you get a free souvenir glass. So I did that and now I have an Improv glass to go with Doug Stanhope’s rocks glass that I took from the club here in Medford where we saw him a few years back.
For a review of that show, click here: