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January 2013

Isn’t it funny how you can be looking forward to an event for nearly a year and then all of a sudden with the snap of your fingers, you’re looking back at it.  Our five days in Florence, Oregon seemed about five minutes long.  We sang for nearly a thousand school children.  We did two back-to-back 40-minute shows on Thursday.

Our sponsor, Hal Weiner joined us on Hakk ‘n Koff, an anti-tobacco song we wrote for the kids.

The choir all had flowers in their hair and I asked if they had an extra one, which one girl did.  She gave it to me, so I taped it on my head – flower power forever!


After the kids’ show Hal took us to one of his favorite restaurants and we enjoyed the most fresh crab encrusted halibut we’ve ever tasted. 

He also provided us with one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever stayed overlooking the Central Oregon coastline. 

We saw it all – rain, clouds, sunshine with an offshore wind carrying the spray back over the tops of the breaking waves – absolutely glorious! 

That first night John and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to some new songs.  We spent hours working on,  “Do You Want to Dance,” “Send in the Clowns,” “I Got Sunshine,” “Never my love,” and several more tunes that we want to work into our show.

As you can see, Sumi worked on her fabric art stitching away, while Mari pulled a new crochet pattern off the internet and did up a wonderful hat, not yet finished, but I’m sure she’ll get it done over the next five weeks while we’re in New Zealand.

The next day was a day off for us.  We spent some time walking on the beach.

That afternoon we just lazied around the house until it was time to head for the show.

The folks in Florence had done a great PR job and the auditorium was packed, standing room only.

As much as we wanted to stay a few more days, our flight tickets had us leaving Eugene on early Sunday morning flights.

At that early hour there wasn’t a lot of action taking place at the airport either.

John and Sumi headed back to Southern California while Mari and I flew onto Australia.  It’s already February 7th and we’re here on the Gold Coast sitting in a sidewalk café eating genuine Australian hamburgers. 

We’re off to New Zealand on Monday to visit Mari’s family…. What a great way to start of 2013.





An Unexpected Milestone

My original thinking was that we ought to have Barry McGuire doing the vocal punctuation marks in the re-recording of Ride Ride Ride, a 50-year-old song that he and Dolan Ellis and I recorded together as a New Christy Minstrels offering forty-nine years ago. 

How could we properly perform the ditty without Barry's signature Hyaaaahs?  Becky Jo and I had planned to take the portable studio to Barry and Mari's home in Fresno to snag some wild lines, but Barry had a better idea.  "We'll come to where you're all set up in Lodi, and make a holiday of the venture, as it's Mari's birthday on Thursday, August 2nd." 

Here we go again, more birthday madness!  "Okay, if you're coming all that way just for us, then you'll have your own solo in the album, correction: the CD."  We had recorded Missouri (When The Red Buds Bloom) as a possible Eddie Boggs solo, but Eddie wasn't yet comfortable with the song, so the idea of pushing the assignment off onto Barry was fine with him.  Eddie would sing Back In Bakersfield Again, which was better suited to his blue grass musical ability.  

Barry's sojourn in the makeshift studio was certainly worth the effort.  It took both of us back in time, and with all of the murky water under the bridge, turned out to be the perfect way to conclude a musical venture that began in 1962.  We hardly knew what we were doing back then. 

Now, we're seasoned veterans, old pros eager to please, laughing all the way.  This record is as good as the one-take gems of Louie Armstrong's late-in-life production.  I thought I'd never again have the opportunity to record my friend Barry, and I'm much pleased with his additions to our wonderful collection of homemade sounds.  

There were seven of us at Mari McGuire's birthday bash at The Dancing Fox on School Street in Lodi, and what a special moment it was.  That place is a kind of European boutique bakery, but they don't make cakes, so Mari was persuaded to make-do with a birthday peach pie, a dessert for which any real gourmet would willingly die. 

Mari, we learned, like myself, also has two birthdays per year.  She was born in New Zealand, beyond the International Date Line, so when she achieves her annual growth-ring here in the States, she's already a day older down under, the birthday greetings from relatives having arrived twenty-four hours earlier.   What an absolute delight it is that we're still alive, still functional. 

I'm assuming that some kind soul shall alert us when we become hopelessly irrelevant, but I'm pleased to report that this hasn't happened yet.  In fact, I now have evidence that we've once again achieved main-stream status.  Hyaaaah!

Randy Sparks - New Christy Minstrels 



June 2nd, 2012 – REEDLEY, CA

John and Sumi drove up from LA and pulled up in front of our house late in the day on Friday evening. 

John and Sumi

We showed them into our guest room, had a bite to eat, and it was early to bed for the four of us.

Bite to Eat

Friday morning I was up by 6.30 a.m. watering my flower garden in the backyard. 



The Bloom

Everybody else rolled out around 9 a.m. breakfast at 10 a.m.  

Breakfast at 10 a.m.

John and I went over the songs that we were planning to do at the fund raiser.

Going Over Songs

We arrived at the SIerra View Homes Retirement Community in Reedley at 4 p.m.
Our hostess, Nancy ushered us into the dining room where the benefit dinner was being held.  The theme of the evening was ‘Bullfrogs and Butterflies’ and they had the place plastered with butterflies and bullfrogs everywhere. 

Bullfrogs and Butterflies Everywhere

After dinner they held a silent auction and then they introduced John and me. 

Silent Auction

As we walked out on stage, I spotted Pastor Mel Harrel, the man who baptized me in the Kings River on Father’s Day, 1971 there in Reedley.  Two years later he performed the wedding service when Mari and I got married.  First he played the organ, “here comes the bride,” then he ran over to the pulpit where we recited our vows in front of the 11 guests in attendance, and then he ran back to the piano and played the after wedding march as we exited the sanctuary, then he ran around the side of the church and threw rice at us as we climbed into the back of my Uncle Eddie’s 1971 Mercury sedan.  Pastor Harrel is 91 years old now and he still beams with the joy of Christ shining from his eyes.

Pastor Harrel

The show was fun, fun, fun We invited Sumi to come up on stage and get a picture of the Reedley wildlife.

Sumi at work

Reedley Wildlife

Reedley Wildlife

It was over all too soon as the old folks couldn’t stay up that late, so we only got to sing for an hour.  All in all, it was a warm, wonderful, rich, rewarding evening enjoyed by all, especially John, Sumi, Mari and me.

Rich Evening




We flew out of Auckland Saturday, 24th March, 2012.  We met up with John & Robyn, Winkie and Fae along with two new friends, Dick and Nicole.  Altogether the eight of us flew off to Fiji  where we were picked up at the airport and driven in a Fijian taxi van over to Denarau Island where Lindsay and Lynne were waiting for us.

Fresh Arrivals at Nadi Airport


Sunday was a settling in day, just kind of walking around and getting to know the area.  Our most important mission was to find dinner for the ten of us.

Dinner in Denarau

The next day some chose to go boating, but not us.  We’ve been boating, been there, done that, so we stayed home and walked over to the Port Denarau shopping center where we found a Hard Rock Café with a free wifi connection.


Hard Rock Café Friends

Fab Four in Fiji

In Fiji one day is much like the next – hot, sunny, light winds,

Hot & Sunny Days

but then came the rains. 

Swimming pool in the rains

First we lost all power which meant no pumps to pressurize the in-house water systems which meant no running water in the house . 

Barry and Lyn - Water from the Pool to rinse the dishes

We did have butane gas for the stove in the kitchen so everybody pitched in and dinner was served by candlelight. 

Robyn, Winkie and mari still smiling

Mari discovered our next door neighbor had internet access so we trudged over through the rain where we were able to touch base with family and let them know even though the storm was predicted to get worse that we were all ok and would be leaving for the airport the next morning.

That night Nadi was flooded out.  At times the roads were four feet under water so we had to book a helicopter that would transport us all to the airport, which would have cost us a small fortune.  Next morning conditions lightened for a brief moment and it was low tide which allowed the inland water ways to drain out, so we were able to cancel the helicopter and grab a quick cab ride to the airport .  We drove through some very tragic flooded out areas.

Tragic Circumstances

Broken Roads

Where Do We Start?

We sat in line all day only to be told the flights were all cancelled so we had to find a place to stay that night.  Problem was, so did all the other stranded tourists, so we wound up in one of the funkiest “motels” we’ve ever experienced, and after 50 years on the road, that’s saying something.  There was no running water so we had to buy a bucket to bucket water out of the swimming pool to flush the toilet and we had to rent our towels at $5 each.  They were the greyest white towels, but hey, we had a roof over our heads.

Next morning Lindsay decided we should get out as soon as possible and head back to the airport.  By now there was another storm on the way and it was predicted that the road from our motel to the airport would be under water by mid-morning.  Our taxi driver said that after the most recent storm he had three feet of water in his house and the only reason he was working that morning was because he needed the money.  We tipped him very generously.  The Fijian people are such sweethearts, but there is just no infrastructure in place to take care of the most basic needs of the ordinary people.

So we thankfully made it back to the airport and decided we wouldn't’t leave the airport again.  We headed to a café in one corner of the building and ordered breakfast. 

Breakfast At the Airport

It was such a treat to have power and water, flushing toilets, and food . We paid more for tea and coffee than we’ve ever paid before, but we decided that every dollar we spent in Fiji was a donation to the Fijian economy.

Then it was back to waiting in line. 

Waiting in Line

We headed over early to be first in line.  We tried to figure out where the Air NZ line would start, as they hadn’t posted the information at the counter.  Luckily we picked the right place and that’s where we camped out for the day. 

Camping out

As the hours crept by, and the weather grew worse, Lindsay decided to book us hotel rooms, as it wasn’t looking good for us to get out that day.  He wanted to be proactive so we wouldn’t have to stay where we stayed the night before.  He managed to find a hotel just five minutes from the airport with a free shuttle service. 

Mari and I were determined to stay the course and maintain our number one spot in the long, long line that had built up behind us, so we told the other couples to go ahead and we would let them know how things were progressing as the day went by. 

While Mari knitted the sleeve of our son’s sweater, I slept on the concrete floor.  We made a lot of new friends as the hours went by.  Finally we were told that all Air New Zealand flights had been cancelled so people started leaving the airport in droves in search of lodging for the night.  We called our friends telling them to send the shuttle to pick us up.  They texted back that it would be about another hour before the shuttle would arrive. 

Just as we were about to leave, an announcement came over the PA that Air Pacific was bringing out a 747 and they would take ALL of the Auckland bound passengers including the passengers that Air New Zealand had left stranded for three days so we texted our friends and said, “get here fast, we have a flight out.”


As the plane lifted from the tarmac, four hundred people applauded, whistled, shouted, but at the same time we were all thinking about those who had been left behind, both Fijians and tourists who had left the airport before the flight out was announced. 


As we write this blog from the safety of New Zealand, the news is reporting that another cyclone is bearing down on Fiji and we can’t even imagine the hell those folks are experiencing. 

Diluvian waters from Hell


Sunday , October 30, 2011

Time to pack up and leave our beautiful Hotel Victoria. 

In The Moment

Morten and Solveig decided to take us out to a special seafood restaurant on our way to our Sunday venue in Grimstad. 

Our Special Restaurant

A Table Set for Four

A Happy Couple

Another Happy Couple

Delicious Lunch

Delicious Dessert


We arrived early at the venue and enjoyed some great Norwegian coffee. 

Coffee Bar

It was a low key evening, and a wonderful ending to our tour. 

Old Friends

They all wanted to hear one more song, so I sang them one of my favorite songs, “Callin’ Me Home”.

Callin’ Me Home

Then it was off to our hotel, hug Morten and Solveig, and do our final repack for our flight back home.


Kragero - Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slept in till 9 a.m. grabbed a quick breakfast from the buffet, and then it was time to go walkabout the city of Kragero.  Our time in Kragero was coming to an end.  We had nothing to do all day so we walked around town taking pictures until Morten came to meet us and walked us up to his house for lunch.  Solveig had prepared a beautiful Norwegian salmon meal for us, but all too soon it was time to drive to the venue, which was all of three minutes from our hotel.  Pictures tell a thousand words so here are the photos of our day.  They'll tell the story.

A Sunny Day in Norway

Going Walkabout

Walk about in Kragero

Corner Shops

Harbor View

Hardy Norwegian Roses

Narrow Streets

Norwegian Wuthering Heights

Kragero Architecture

Kragero Houses

Kragero Boats

Kragero Tranquility

Walking to Morten's

We're Nearly There

Lunch is Ready

So Where Do You Want Me to Sit

Sound check

Set that sound

18 Candles

Early Comers

Starting to Fill Up

Full to Overflowing


Doing What He Does Best

We are stardust, we are golden

Our Hotel Lobby

Friday, October 28, 2011

It’s a slow rainy day.  We’ll be leaving around 4 p.m. for a two hour drive to Kristiansand where I’m performing in a club.  The show starts at 9 p.m. so it’s going to be another early a.m. arrival back in our hotel.

Morten and Solveig picked us up at 4 p.m.   We stopped along the way for a late lunch/early dinner and arrived at the club around 7 p.m. 

The Club

Our soundman had everything ready for me so it only took about ten minutes to dial in,

Dialled In

while Mari set up her little store. 

The Little Store

I ducked into the dressing room while the people started pouring in off the street. 

Dressing Room Backstage 

People People Everywhere


Morten & Solveig

Show started right on time and I walked out on stage filled with mixed feelings about the evening.  The club normally has punk rock, heavy metal rock n roll bands, and here I was, just me and my acoustic guitar, but right from the first song, the audience climbed on board for the ride and what a night we had!

Rapt Audience

After the show it was all hugs and handshakes, while we all shared a few brief moments trying to squeeze as much relationship as possible before we had to leave for our two hour drive home. 


It was an overcast evening but no rain so we had dry roads all the way home.  I thought I would go to sleep, but I was so energized by the show that I stayed awake and was part of the conversation that went on mostly between Solveig, who was driving and Mari, who was sitting next to me in the back seat.  Occasionally Morten and I would get a word in edge-wise, but not very often.

Got back to our hotel at 2 a.m. and spent nearly two more hours answering emails before we collapsed into bed.  What a wonderful day!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today is a day off and this evening we’ll be celebrating Morten’s 50th birthday.
Mari and I took a little walk around town. 

Walk around town

Guess Who?

Of course, she had to find something for our grannies as Makielah’s 12th birthday is coming up in just a couple of weeks,

Mari’s Shop

so I sat on a bench in the plaza and how incredible to see people out and about bumping into friends, standing and talking and then someone else will come along and join them in their conversation.  Here in Kragero people seem to have all the time in the world.  They love to laugh and share their lives with each other. 

Morten picked us up around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and took us to a meeting place where cars started showing up, full of people. 

People Everywhere

Then with about 15 cars in tow, off we went to a secret place.  About half way there, we pulled off the road for a moment to a parking area where another 15 cars were waiting.  Everybody was honking at each other and waving.  We just rolled on through and they joined the line.  Our first stop was a little roadside cabin that looked like it was closed for the winter,

Roadside Cabin 

but they did a special snack for us all – 80 strong – of foot long Norwegian wieners wrapped in hot dog buns or potato tortillas.  You could choose between mustard or ketchup. I chose mustard. 

Norwegian Wieners

They had a  firepit outside where we stood around eating our Norwegian hotdogs and drinking cold apple cider. 



They told us not to each much because this was just a snack.  The main meal was coming.

Back in the cars, we drove, drove and drove some more.  I thought, “How funny is this? “  Every day we spend hours on the road driving from one concert venue to another and here we are on our evening off spending hours driving, driving, driving to some secret place out in the woods.  We left the blacktop highway and hit a dirt road for about two miles.  By now it was dusk and everyone had their headlights on.  We were in the lead car with Morten and his wife Solveig. 

Suddenly we arrived at Gunnar’s Verksted Cinema Fantasia   


Gunnar is a true industrial artist.  

Industrial Art

He has acres filled with the most wonderful machines all put together in such a way as to create industrial art. 

A Mushroom?

I could have spent days looking at what he has gathered – everything from granite mining and cutting tools with huge slabs of granite just sitting around waiting to be sliced, airplanes, tractors, motorcycles, computers, typewriters – old and new, stacks of old televisions and old radios, magazines from the sixties, gears, transmissions, lathes and drill presses, shelves and shelves full of miscellaneous items that all somehow seem to make sense in this industrial art gallery.  We commented that if an extra-terrestrial ship ever landed on earth, they should land here at Gunnar’s Gallery.  They would need to go no further to learn everything they need to know about humanity.

After a 25 minute cinema show in a room that tilted and moved in such a way as to enhance what you were seeing on the screen,

Cinema Show

and an excursion through acres of art,

Our Excursion Transport

Inside our Transport

Preparing For Our Art Walk

Walking Through Acres of Art

we wound up in a huge teepee type dining room with a fire pit in the middle,

Teepee Dining room

where we had our dinner – roast beef, au gratin potatoes, delicious fresh green salad with olives, red onions and tomatoes. 

Delicious Dinner

Everyone was laughing, singing, line dancing, and giving speeches about Morten, our birthday boy, who turned 50 that evening at midnight. 


The Birthday Boy

Songs for Morten

Songs with Morten

Songs with Morten and Solveig

The evening ended in a great display of Gunnar’s photography projected on an outdoor water spray fountain.  How beautiful to see images unfolding in the mist of water spray – very ethereal.

Ethereal Mist

Got back to our room at 1 a.m. totally frizzing with joy and goodness from all the love and friendship we had experienced.  You can tell a lot about a person by what kind of friends they have.  Morten and his wife are two very loving and loved people.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us to Langesund, but before we left town we stopped by a national radio station where I had the greatest time talking with Janne Ateigen on NRK Sorlandet radio promoting the next four shows.


Dag & Morten Waiting

Getting Set Up

Tell ‘Em All About it Barry

Then off we went into a rainy day where once again I slept nearly the whole way.

Rainy Day

Svein, our host for Langesund, met us for an early dinner and then took us to his home where Mari and I both crashed for about an hour of good sound sleep waking up just in time for a cup of coffee and the most delicious piece of homemade cheesecake we’ve EVER experienced.

Then it was show time once again, so off we went to the venue.  This was another church building with an excellent sound system.  They had rearranged all the chairs bringing in little round tables, with a burning candle on each one. 

Little Candles

Great Venue

Home Again

I felt like I was singing at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.  The place packed out and what a fun evening we had.

Langesund Wild Life 

After the show we had a lovely snack with the staff, then it was another 40 minute drive up to Kragero on a dark rainy night on wet, windy roads to our Hotel Victoria that we’ll be using as a base for the next four days. 

Hotel Victoria

As we’re typing this blog, we can hear the seagulls just outside the rail of our balcony working the morning tide.

Our Balcony View

Barry on our Balcony


Tuesday,  25th October, 2011

After a hot shower, a shave, clean clothes and a wonderful buffet breakfast, we were feeling pretty good.  Our host, Morten met us in the lobby at 10.45 a.m. and off we went to the train station for a three hour train ride to Algard. 

Kristiansand Train Station Outside

Kristiansand Train Station Inside  

What a train ride it was.  It was whisper quiet.

Tickets Please

Welcome Aboard

The chairs were like lazyboys.

The lazy boys

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous.  We rolled right out of the overcast cloudy weather into beautiful sunshiny blue skies.

Cloudy overcast

More cloudy overcast 

Still cloudy

Grey day, grey grey

All the leaves are gone

Here comes the sun

Yep, here comes the sun

It’s All Right

Our Algard sponsor, Ole picked us up at the station,

The three boys

and took us to his home where his wife, Malfrid and son, Andreas were waiting with a most delicious meal. 

Our Algard Family (Ole & Family)

Then I went down for another nap getting myself ready for the show that night. 

The venue was a beautiful wooden Baptist church, which is used for civic events because the acoustics there are the best in the city.  Quick sound check and a cup of coffee and people started filling up the room. 

Beautiful Venue

I told my stories and sang my songs straight through for almost two hours and they called me back for one more song. 

One More Song

No-one wanted to leave.  We hung around for another hour just talking with folks about the music , sharing the adventure of our lives, them with us and us with them.

Hanging out

Then it was off to the train station for another three hour, whisper quiet train ride back to Kristiansand. 

1.30 a.m. Kristiansand Station

Our ride “home”

It was 2 a.m. by the time we walked into our rooms, but we were so energized by the evening, the show and the people, that we couldn’t go to sleep so we got into our email and before we knew it, it was 5 a.m. when we finally turned off the light.  Problem was, we had a 9 a.m. wake up call.


Sunday 23rd, October, 2011

The flight to Amsterdam was long and wonderfully boring, just the way we like flights to be.  No excitement please when you’re six miles high.

Boring  Flight

By the time we arrived in Amsterdam (9 hours ahead of California), it was already Monday morning. 

Schiphol Airport

The four hours at Schiphol went by in a flash as we sat at the gate dozing off, waking up and then dozing off again. 


Before we knew it we were on the flight to Kristiansand, Norway.  I don’t know about Mari but I was asleep before we got off the ground and didn’t wake up until the wheels hit the runway. 

We didn’t have any Norwegian money and there was no place to exchange our US currency.  We asked everyone working there at the airport and they had no advice for us.  We thought, “Well, how are we going to get to town.”  When out of the blue, a tall, wonderful man and a beautiful lady stepped out of the crowd.  He shook my hand and put his arm around my shoulder and said with his Norwegian accent, “Barry McGuire?”  I knew we were saved.  I gave him such a hug, “Thank you, thank you.”  “We’ve come to pick you up,” he said.  He introduced himself as Dag and his driving companion Berit.

They took us straight to our hotel where we checked in and crashed. 

27 hours later

Where’s my room?

It was 3 p.m. when my head hit the pillow and I slept for a solid 15 hours until 6 a.m.  Before Mari went down, she reorganized everything in our suitcases, got her cd store sorted out in a roll-on suitcase, then she went unconscious for 14 hours.





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