Patti Jo’s Country: Susan M. Botich, Author of Novel and Song

Susan M. Botich signature

Singer, songwriter, poet and published author Susan M. Botich works as a freelance writer for regional and national magazines and business and news publications. 

From the time she was a young child, she always felt drawn to storytelling, with its many forms of sharing the human experience. Along with her love for the written word, Susan M. Botich says she loves songs that tell stories bringing together words and melody to touch the heart of the listener. 

She describes herself in her blog (Susan M. Botich’s blog) as: “… a writer, poet, songwriter and musician.” I became aware of her as I listened to her song “Swayin‘” from her album Dancer as I visited the Indie Music charts of Number One Music.

I am an eccentric, but I tend to prefer acoustic music that creatively blends genres from around the world and throughout time”


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Movies Till Dawn: What You Could Be Watching This Weekend (Short and Sweet Tough Guys Edition)

Animal Factory” (2000, Arrow Video) Intent on surviving behind bars, new prison inmate Edward Furlong forges an alliance with flinty fellow con Willem Dafoe, which will have a lasting impact on the future – and freedom – of both men. Second feature directorial effort by actor Steve Buscemi, co-scripted by real-life ex-con turned actor/writer Edward Bunker, is an unvarnished look at prison life, minus the grandiosity or exploitative elements common to such pictures. Like Buscemi’s first film, “Trees Lounge,” “Factory” is focused more on character that plot, and works best as a showcase for its ensemble cast, which includes excellent support from Danny Trejo, Mark Boone, Jr. and Seymour Cassel, and two surprisingly fine turns by Tom Arnold as a predatory heavy and Mickey Rourke as Furlong’s cross-dressing cellmate. Arrow’s Special Edition Blu-ray focuses on Bunker’s career as author and actor (he played Mr. Blue in “Reservoir Dogs”) through an interview with critic Barry Forshaw and the commentary, which pairs Bunker with fellow former inmate-turned-actor/entrepreneur Trejo.

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Patti Jo’s Country: Keith Ivan Schrenk, Cowboy Singer

Keith Ivan Schrenk

It is 5:15 in the dark morning. Baking of the morning cornbread scents the air and removes the chill. It’s just the dog and I this morning. 

I am considering “The American Dream”. I am in that dream and it is wonderful. In this home in Idaho with a family and friends, I am living the Dream: teaching, producing songs and writing this column. I am free to create my life and that is the American dream. 

I am a Western woman, born and raised in the Western United States by parents who were both from the Midwest. My values and heritage are pure American going back generations to the Revolutionary War. 

A vision of Kieth Ivan Schrenk spreads across my mind: A man on a horse in the very early hours, breath visible against the dim first light of sunrise. It is a comforting peaceful fantasy for me. The simple understanding of right and wrong, of honor, integrity, hard work and a certain understanding that we can choose our lives and if we keep at it long enough, we will achieve, in some measure, our dream. Continue reading

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter in Boise!

Winter in Boise Dec. 4, 2017

It’s beginning to look like winter in Boise. The first snows are covering the mountains, while a chill is definitely in the air. The picturesque view tells everyone it is that time of the season, for holidays, cold weather, trips to the mountain, skiing, snow, hot chocolate and cappuccinos. The beautiful sky, with the occasional puffy clouds, makes a nice contrast to the white snow on the mountains. This is winter in Boise. Taken on Fairview Avenue looking east, December 4, 2017. Photo by Ed Simon.

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Upcoming Toys For Tots Boise Fundraiser Will Rock ‘n Roll for A Good Cause

Toys for Tots Boise FundraiserLocal music groups Gerry and the Dreambenders and Jake Leg have teamed up for the 5th Annual Toys for Tots Fundraiser on Friday, December 8 at the Sapphire Room. Toys for Tots is the United States Marine Corp’s project to supply disadvantaged children whose parents cannot afford toys with presents for Christmas. Boise has their own local organization, Toys for Tots Boise, that handles our local area. Toys for Tots has been an integral part of the U.S Marines since 1947.

The Toys for Tots Boise show will open with hi energy local favorites, Jake Leg. Mike Witmer, bass player for Jake Leg, said “Jake Leg is excited to be able to give back to the community by playing with Gerry and the Dreambenders to support the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” program. We’ll be playing our high energy selection of danceable blues music.” If you have never seen a Jake Leg show, be prepared for great music and an exciting performance. Following Jake Leg, Gabe Dunn from Radio Boise will provide a comic interlude guaranteed to please everyone.

The Toys for Tots Boise Fundraiser is the brainchild of Mike Wallace, who fronts the headlining Gerry and the Dreambenders. Mike is very passionate about causes he believes in and said: “There are five causes that I care about and I am fortunate that the people in my band feel the same way. The five causes that matter to us are blind kids, food for people for Thanksgiving celebrations, underprivileged kids, breast cancer and veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. What we want to do, in the winter months we use the opportunity to help people. We love to play, so why not do that and help people?” Continue reading

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In Memory of John Fleck: Larry Tamblyn Talks About The Standells

The Standells in Concert at Tiki Oasis 2014

Note: I’m republishing this interview I did in 2014 with Larry Tamblyn, one of the original founders of the Standells. John Fleck, one of the key members of the Standells for many years, has died of AML Leukemia this past October 18. You can read the Standell’s announcement of it here. It is in tribute to him that I share this with you. 

Tiki Oasis, held in San Diego earlier this month, featured lots of great entertainment along with great rum, parties and seminars. The capper to the event was the performance of the Standells, one of the most iconic of the 1960’s groups. Their influence has been felt by many in the music industry, earning them acclaim as a key influence on the garage and punk band genres. Not just playing concerts but still actively recording new songs, the Standells are still thrilling crowds with their music. Dirty Water, their hit from the ’60s, is just as well-known today as when it was a new hit song.

Indeed, over the years, groups as varied as the Dave Matthews Band, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and U2 have covered some of the Standell’s songs. Dirty Water is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock. Their influence on many of the seminal punk groups cannot be measured. Songs like Riot on Sunset Strip set the stage for hard-hitting film music. However, along with new fans picking up their new album BUMP and enjoying the Standells on their recent tour, the Standells, with original founder Larry Tamblyn and original bassist John Fleck are not resting on their laurels but instead writing and producing some really good new songs. At the Tiki Oasis, these guys proved they can still rock the crowd.

I had a chance to sit down with Larry Tamblyn before the Standell’s performance and talk about music, the Standells, Dirty Water and life on the road.

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Star Country Cafe a Great Choice For Biscuits and Gravy

at Star Country Cafe

Wanting to take a drive out to the ‘country’, I decided a trek to the Star Country Cafe was a good place to head to. Having never been to Star itself, I headed west and then took a leisurely drive down Star Road. It was a nice drive, past farmhouses, cattle and cows and open space. The Star Country Cafe is basically in the center of town after you turn onto State Street. Expecting a quiet little place with a few people in it at lunchtime, I parked and walked in. Both dining rooms plus the counter were packed, always a sign of good food. We were seated shortly and I began perusing the menu. Jumping out at me, it said, ‘Best Biscuits and Gravy in the West’. Well, here was a challenge I was up for!

There are several options for the biscuits and gravy. I opted for 2 biscuits, gravy, hash browns and a slice of ham. When my order came, it was on a huge platter. The ham itself was a nice slice, with nice caramelization on it from being cooked on the high heat of the flattop. The hash browns were your generic hash browns, but they were nicely cooked on the flattop, yielding a soft interior and a delicious crispy exterior. Continue reading

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Movies Till Dawn: What You Could Be Watching This Weekend (Short, Sweet, Shrinking and Singing Edition)

The Incredible Shrinking woman DVD coverThe Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1981, Shout! Factory) Suburban housewife Lily Tomlin’s standing in her home is diminished, both emotionally and physically, after an overabundance of cleaning and beauty products causes her to shrink to microscopic size. Inspired by the novel “The Shrinking Man” by Richard Matheson and its 1957 film adaptation, this comedy, penned and co-produced by Tomlin’s longtime collaborator and partner, Jane Wagner, works best in its first half, with Tomlin suffering countless indignities because she can no longer measure up (quite literally) to societal obligations to her oblivious husband (Charles Grodin), whose company produced the products that caused her transformation, and rambunctious kids. The latter half, which teams Tomlin with a gorilla (played by special effects legend Rick Baker) to fend off scientists intent on using her altered chemistry to fuel a world domination plot, is less memorable, but as a vehicle for Tomlin, who plays four roles in the film, including Ernestine and Edith Ann (glimpsed in edited scenes), “Shrinking Woman” ultimately works by providing a showcase for her talent at finding the humanity in outlandish characters. The Shout Select Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes a conversation with Tomlin and Wagner about the film, as well as interviews with director Joel Schumacher (“The Lost Boys”) and cinematographer Bruce Logan, who also supervised the impressive visual effects.

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Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Mansion of the Doomed” (1975)

Mansion of the Doomed DVD coverFollowing in the footsteps of such perfection-minded but misguided medicos as Dr. Genessier in “Eyes Without a Face” and Jesus Franco’s awful Dr. Orloff, surgeon Richard Basehart decides that the only way to assuage his guilt over accidentally blinding his daughter (Trish Stewart) in a car accident is to drug visitors to his home and passers-by alike, remove their eyes and transplant them into his daughter, despite her increasing protestations. Beefy character actor Michael Pataki (“Rocky IV”) directed this queasy surgical horror film for veteran low-budget producer Albert Band and his then-24-year-son, Charles, who would later produce numerous cult favorites in the 1980s, including “Re-Animator” and the “Ghoulies” franchise, among others, through his Empire and Full Moon imprints. Basehart and noir favorite Gloria Grahame, as his long-suffering assistant, lend the production some class and numerous close-ups of eyeless socket makeup (by Stan Winston) on Lance Henriksen and other victims should keep the cellar dwellers happy, though footage of real eye surgery may put others off their Thanksgiving leftovers. Full Moon’s DVD includes the original trailer and spots for other Band library titles, including the “MST3K” favorite “Laserblast” and “The Day Time Ended.”

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Patti Jo’s Country: The Blanca Mora Quartet, Simply Siblime!

Blanca Mora QuartetFinding the Blanca Mora Quartet was an unexpected thrill that awakened a sleeping passion. I LOVE this music.

As a Singer, jazz standards written and produced by such Masters as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Johnny Mercer delight my soul. My heroes are the singers of that era who could accomplish the melodies, rhythms and techniques from the 1920s through the 1950s with seeming ease. Often the melody is nowhere in the accompaniment. This skill and ability required is impossible to impart in words.. You have to experience the challenge to appreciate the accomplishment.

The Blanca Mora Quartet expertly performs a genre of music that is challenging. It is rare for me to find another musician who loves this genre and can accomplish these songs. It was by accident that I stumbled upon Blanca Mora and the talented musicians that make up her quartet.

A Quartet Makes Four starting with The Voice

“Music is my medicine.” Blanca Mora

Blanca Mora is a Singer. She is a vocalist that started out singing Gospel songs who progressed to being able to cover songs from most genres, from Rock to Blues. She sings to spread joy and share what she describes as “an interesting life experience”.

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