Armistice Day Essay

While we dedicate this day to honor all veterans, the reason we do it on this specific day should never be taken for granted. The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month was when the First World War came to its official close, back in 1918. One hundred years ago today.

The end of a war should be commemorated, with giving thanks and celebration, both. Just as its beginning should never be forgotten, while we mourn all that was lost during the war.

Anyone who went to war will have their own personal sacrifice to live with, if they were fortunate enough to live through it in the first place. One does not have to serve in a frontline unit end up in harm’s way, but only the veterans who served in actual combat know the full measure of such service. And yet, we can all know that such events give good reason to mark the end of wars, lest we forget what happens in them. ww1

My grandfathers leather flying helmet and U.S. Navy Air Station “flat hat.”

The Great War of 1914-1918 remains unique in our collective history. Tactics developed during the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War met and were bested by modern weaponry capable of horrors never before visited upon mankind. The results exceed what civilized humans can imagine.

In one battle alone, on the River Somme, there were over one million casualties, with 310,486 killed outright and many more dying in the coming months as a result of their wounds. On a single day in 1916 the British army lost over 57,000 men in one engagement. Such numbers make the American losses on D-Day seem like footnotes. The losses of the French and Germans during the many battles around Verdun are beyond comprehension. And they kept at it; bravely charging into the face death again and again.

On the whole, the world had never seen anything like it. Unfortunately we cannot say such things were never seen again.

Today the 11th November is referred to as Veterans Day and has been expanded to remember and honor all veterans who served their country ever since, in peacetime and in war. That is a good thing…

1912 U.S. Sailors Armistice Day

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Get the Flu Shot!

Anyone who thinks they can just go to work or about their business with the flu have never had it.

The flu is a devastating illness.

It can last weeks and require many weeks of recovery. I used to get the flu every year until I started getting the shot. Recent strains have been quite deadly. The last time I got the flu it was because I waited too long to get the shot. I slept sitting upright for a week because I felt I would suffocate if I slept lying down, which is exactly what happened to a friend’s son who died of the same virus within weeks of my illness. He was fit and in his early 30s, and a father of young children.

Get the shot. That is less about you than those you could infect if you don’t.

Here is piece from NPR you should read and share:

Think You Don’t Need A Flu Shot? Here Are 5 Reasons To Change Your Mind

flu shot NPR piece
Alex Schwartzman, a law student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is one of only 8 to 39 percent of college students who get the flu shot in a given year.
 Mary Mathis/NPR 


The clock strikes Seven and it is dark

Song of Autumn

Paul Verlaine

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur


Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure.
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens,
Et je pleure.


Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
De çà, de là,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

The long sobs
of autumn’s
wound my heart
with a monotonous


and pallid, when
the clock strikes,
I remember
the days long past
and I weep.


And I set off
in the rough wind
that carries me
hither and thither
like a dead

Chanson d’automne par Paul Verlaine

Rodgers’ Astounding Performance

I’ve always felt Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback since John Unitas.

No matter how many Super Bowls Tom Brady has won. I am now convinced.

I would not have believed it if I had not just witnessed one of THE most heroic performances in the history of professional sports – or anywhere outside of actual warfare.

Aaron Rodgers, who was carted off mid-way in the first half to what seemed likely the end of his season due to a leg injury, wasn’t able to stand on his left leg as he took the field in the second half to stare down a 20-0 deficit. I cannot ever remember seeing a player leave on a cart and come back to play again in the same game.

And then he led the Green Bay Packers to a 24-23 victory over their historic rival Chicago Bears, to increase his at-home record to 57-8, and 51-2 since going 6-6 in his first 12 starts.
But there is so much more to it, and you can’t make this stuff up, folks!
Kalil Mack just arrived on the Bear’s roster this week and showed why he deserves to be the highest-paid defensive player in league history with his own super hero performance in the first half that included harassing Rodgers non-stop and being the main reason Rodgers went down to be injured when another defender fell on him, to stopping the Packer’s first worthwhile drive, when he charged in like a flash and simply took the ball out of the hand of Rodger’s replacement, Deshone Kizer.
On the next drive, Mack nearly stripped the ball a second time on a “hurry,” before intercepting a Kizer pass that he returned for a touchdown, to put the Bears up 17-0. And most of America went to bed amazed that the Packers were being blown out at home and Aaron Rodgers was done for the season after having missed 10 weeks the previous year due to a broken collar bone.
Then came A-Rod’s gimpy return, which resulted in a field goal, then a bomb to the corner of the end zone right into the hands of a scrappy Geronimo Alison for a TD, to jaw-dropping needle-threading passes for another score, and then Randal Cobb’s 75-yard TD scamper after Rodgers one-legged scramble disrupted the defense and thread yet another needle to get Cobb the ball. And all of it while holding Chicago to 6 points.
AND THEN veteran golden-maned linebacker Clay Mathews had a bizarrely stupid Roughing the Passer call on Fourth Down to give the Bears and their young but steely QB new life. But they failed to convert on a later fourth down, and Rodgers hobbled his way to the victory.
The Green Bay Packers were 0-107 when trailing by 17 or more points in the 4th quarter. But no longer.
For all the hoopla about Rodgers hail mary pass against the Lions some years back, that only happened after the refs called a phantom Face Mask penalty that didn’t actually happen, which gave Rodgers one more play. But this win was absolutely earned. And while the Bears and their fans must feel absolutely gut wrenched, they showed they are a force unlike anything that’s been in Chicago in many years.
And that makes the walking wounded performance of Aaron Rodgers and his mates all the more amazing.

Hi-Def Digital Download now available

T Spoon Phillips’ album Lost and Haunted Ways is now available for digital downloading

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Praise for Lost and Haunted Ways…

 “A five star soundtrack for a long journey… Well done, Mr. Phillips!” – Gary Hlavinka, Pittsburgh, PA

 “A musical storyteller who spins yarns in his playing, the cuts on Spoon’s Lost and Haunted Ways have an evocative, narrative quality, with unpredictable plots and dramatic twists that draw in the listener.

At moments — for example, during “The Ghost’s Walk” — I felt the sensation of getting pulled toward the speakers.  Really well done. “ – John Stone-Mediatore, fingerstyle guitarist, Delaware, OH.

 “The quality of the recording is crisp and clear, with a performance that is flawlessly executed. Enjoying it!”  – Stan Entsminger, Jacksonville, FL.

“Love it! … With each song, I envision traveling to a new location and enjoying the trip.” – Steve Bolfing, Brazoria, TX

“A very gifted song stylist at a really, really high level. And with songs so well constructed, so melodic, so visually evocative, I found myself not even listening to the sounds, but just traveling on little journeys. – Max Zug, Lancaster, PA.

Check out the new album HERE.

T Spoon Phillips – Lost and Haunted Ways

The Music of One Man’s Guitar

T Spoon Phillips – Lost and Haunted Ways

“…a brilliant piece of musical art for the ages. Bravo, Spoon!” – Rhys Ord

Hear the full compositions of the original guitar music used in our video reviews, and at

Available on CD and as a Digital Download*

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Martinfest 2018: Epilogue

“Each Martinfest is different. And this one was differenter than most.” That is how I put it throughout the weekend.

For example, I didn’t get into the Inner Sanctum but once the entire weekend. The irony of this is, for once my room was directly next door to Special Ed Madonio.

I walked in on Sunday night, and listened to Ed sing a song, while playing what was probably Mike Longworth’s 12-fret 00-45.

And then I went off to make an appointment, and I just never found my way back in there to see what priceless guitars were stacked up in there like Aladdin’s cave. I heard tell of a pre-war Gibson J-200 made of mahogany no less. Actually, I had played that guitar before. But I am sure there were others I would have loved to see for the first time.

But I did finally track down Wayne Wirta (twelvestringer) and his amazing #1 of the last Laurence Juber Signature Editions, that is made with Guatemalan rosewood, high-altitude Swiss spruce, as well as hide glue and thin finish, etc. My custom is similar, but made in the short scale, with Adirondack spruce. And while I find that Juber model to be particularly awesome, I was pleased the Wayne felt my guitar was right up there with it.

After we left the hotel, we drove to Brother’s Music in Wind Gap, PA, where we were treated to a pizza lunch, and I got to check out Brother’s Music’s first build. This is the first guitar they have built from scratch, with koa back and sides they had to bend to make the sides, a righteous Adirondack spruce top, 1937 style bracing, but a post-1938 1-11/16” neck, all done up in Old Style-42!

It has much more soul and depth in the bottom end then one might associate with koa, typically speaking, and that worked so well to support those angels in the high end that koa has like no other tonewood. REALLY magnificent.

And they also had a 1927 00-45 belonging to someone who wondering around Martins on Main, and was in the song circle room when I arrived Saturday night. But she and her sideman were just leaving. A pity. Oh, and they have a 1932 OM-28, in need of a lot of work on the neck and fretboard. But I have never seen a ’32 before! A very cool way to end the day.

And for all the guitars I missed out on playing at this once in a year opportunity, or maybe even once in a lifetime, there were also the people I missed out on.

So many names and faces that came and went who belong in this journal of adventure, and are in it, even if I failed to mention them directly. But for too many of them were barely brushed as I made my way to some room or another.

I got to play some sore-hand licks in the hallway, for maybe one minute, as Craig Lambeth (Craigo) tore UP a 1943 000-18. I got to hear some of Marshall Oberholtzer tearing up some blues his own weathered D-18, at the Park open mic. But saw narrow a note during the hotel jamming. But at least I got to hear Danny Kerr nailing a Jason Isbell tune that Laura would have LOVED. And then sing a stunning tune with with his partner in music Bri Fornay, and his Aunt, Margaret Prunty (0018Vfan.)

And then there are those would couldn’t make it, like Jim and Pam Fix from Arkansas, and Fred Cummings and Jim Behnke from Arizona, and Evan Blanchard from Wisconsin, and Ira Strum from New Jersey, and Bill and Amy Kunsman from Pennsylvania who had to be in Texas for very important family reasons. All wanted to be here but more important matters kept them away. And then there are those who really should come back one of these days, like Gary Hydrick, Tom Conroy, Ed Ard, Cliff and Paula Monges, Tim Porter, Rick, Marylou, and Jack Colgan, Pete Bentley, the list really does go on and on.

But their ranks have been filled with newer folks, and some who can’t always make it but did this year, like Mike Thompson from Cambridge, England, and Rod Loomis (Rod Loomis) from Michigan, who was happily back after a year off for other important matters.

As in other years, when someone would ask, “How are you?” I would answer, “I’m at Martinfest!” And enough was said.

But while this was as bittersweet as any Martinfest has been to date, there were many, many people walking around with that smile they didn’t even realize they had, because they were at Martinfest, Len Rosenberg (Ragpicker,) Dick Boak, and Tony Phillips come to mind here, as does Rich Gerardis (Rich 28H) and Sue Probst and Sue Schier (Jamesue1.)

And it is less than 360 days to the next one.

I hope you all can make it!

Ya never know who you might run into…

Spoon, out