As editing continues, we are acting upon a generous and abundantly kind offer-we-couldn’t-pass-up from Janet and Greg Deering. They are donating a John Hartford custom 24-fret model banjo, made just for the occasion, and with the added bonus of having one of the heads signed by John while he was still among us. It is being auctioned on Ebay for 10 days running from December 4th at 6:30 pm PST (9:30 pm EST) to Sunday, December 14th at that same hour, and all proceeds will be donated to Aereotwang to help fund the remaining tasks of the documentary. With deep thanks to Janet and Greg and the whole Deering family and crew for such an amazing gift of support to further the memory and musical legacy of John Hartford, we kick off this 10-day auction with great curiosity to see who will be the happy winner of such a beautiful and unusual instrument, and we thank you all for your continued interest and patience!
Why no news is good news:
True we’ve been under the radar for a good while, but when you don’t see us it’s because we’re working hard. When you don’t hear from us it’s because we’re focused on editing rather than promotion, staying home from festivals and time-consuming distractions. We’ve missed the frequent contact with our friends and fellow Hartford fans, but the way the doc is coming together at the end of 9 years of interviewing and amassing archives is incredibly rewarding. We’re getting excited about sharing it with you.
Despite caretaker commitments with elderly parents, in Marcy’s case a father who broke his back last January and in Sheila’s case a mother in dementia care, over the course of 2013 we managed to make major progress - finishing writing the script and filling in much of the imagery. Marcy has been hand-drawing titles, animating chapter intros, and constructing the raw edits of all the chapters while Sheila has been busily organizing photos and video from huge archives, collecting the last of the missing photos/video/audio resources and finishing up those final transcriptions. We incorporated most of these into the script chapter by chapter. We continue to coordinate our efforts via Skype from our respective offices in the hours available to Marcy after a 30-hour-a-week day job. After months of less sleep and office-bound weekends - We are happy to say: it’s gettin’ there.
We are shooting to have raw edits together by end of the winter, so we can dig into refining them and adding our audio /video resources. While Marcy has been in the office with the editing equipment, Sheila has been busily gathering the remaining KEY loose ends. She was finally able to interview Brandon Kirk, John’s co-author on the Ed Haley project, who shared some great stories, photos and memorabilia with us. She has interviewed Captain Doc Hawley on the Natchez in New Orleans; spent hours at the Howard Steamboat Museum courtesy of Keith Norrington scanning photos and Hartford-related steamboat resources; and in Nashville, she visited again with Opry photographer Les Leverett to scan photos he kindly offered to share from his Opry archives. She interviewed Laura Carter Cash, taped video/audio voice-overs by Jamie Hartford, filmed cover material at John Hartford’s former Madison house, filmed the Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers, collected photos and cameo audio and video bits from surprise guests, and spent more time at the Hartford.org HQ scanning and photographing the Hartford Office archives. We are very grateful to Eric and Katie and the Hartford Estate for all of the help with chronology and history, photos and resources, and the permissions they have both given us and acquired for us in moving this project forward.
It has astonished both of us how great everyone has been about helping us with this grass roots project, and how generous people have been with their photos, videos, recordings,
memorabilia, memories and stories - it is obvious that John’s wacky sense of humor has left him with a legacy of humorous stories. We think it is a big indicator of just how much we all love and miss John and how much we want the ‘JOHN fun and music’ to continue, that this film has become the musical equivalent of “stone soup.” We owe many thanks to all those who have contributed time, music, and fruits of their labors (both professionals and hobbyists).
We think John would have been proud and very pleased to be so fondly and passionately remembered. We’d especially like to thank some of the unexpected contributors of time and resources; cartoon artist Jim Scancarelli of Gasoline Alley for some beautiful and relevant artwork and photos; Dan Martin of the St. Louis Dispatch for contributing artwork; photographer Allen Hess for much needed photos of John on the Julia Belle Swain, and many more who have come through for us recently with pieces of the puzzle.
We’d also like to thank one of the Pioneers of Bluegrass - Banjoist/Fiddler Tony Ellis and Colin O’Brien (a talented musician, songwriter and Hartford tribute artist), for performing a benefit concert in an old Plantation home for Aereotwang in Louisville in late March of 2013. It was well-attended, with many friends and VIPs in the audience, all of whom we thank for being there.
SO now it’s back to the grindstone so we can be able to say: COMING SOON: John Hartford “OH YEAH.”
As we approach the end of 2012, TwangCentral would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and let you know that we are moving forward on the documentary: John Hartford, “OH YEAH.”
End of 2012 Progress report (sung to the tune of Up on the Roof Top)
Up at TwangCentral we are writing the Doc
pulling photos ‘n clips from our stock
Drawing, animating, makin’ it fun
All Toward the goal of gettin ‘it done …
Up at TwangCentral we just want to say
John’s story’s coming together and have a Happy Holiday
Up at TwangCentral at the end of the year
We aren’t done yet but we are getting near…er
What is happening at TWANG CENTRAL? As of September 2012, Marcy and Sheila are writing script and editing, awaiting permissions, gathering up missing input, transcribing tapes and much much more. Marcy is busy incorporating animation while Sheila just took a trip to Nashville and interviewed Cindy Sinclair. Cindy worked on the Julia Belle Swain during the 70’s when John was decking there to get his hours for his pilot license. Cindy also invited Fletcher Bright and Doc Cullis over to her home to share their piece of John’s story. Doc worked on the Julia Belle along with John and Cindy. Fletcher knew John through the fiddle connection. Fletcher says they were both tune heads …LOVED THOSE FIDDLE TUNES. While Sheila was in Nashville she was able to sit with Sonny Osborne and get a few NASHVILLE stories about John in the Goodle Days.
Sheila and Marcy are busy putting this story together BUT IT IS NEVER TOO LATE to share your unpublished video footage of John with Sheila or Marcy and it is still not too late to make a donation and receive one of the reward gifts we offered during the kickstarter drive.
One of the last interview trips will be made to Chicago in early October to interview Paul Briedenbach who was one of the original Missouri Ridge Runners with John Hartford when he was a teen in St. Louis, MO. Marina Jason of Chicago has offered to share her beautiful archival photos of John, so once again, Sheila and Marcy will scan the night away.
IF you haven’t already, please sign the guest book and tell us your John story. This is Sheila Nichols, signing off from mile marker 604 on the Scenic Ohio River.
Though our Kickstarter campaign is officially over, we continue to hear from folks who would like to have pledged and would still like to make a contribution. So, we will be offering the “rewards” from our Kickstarter drive to donors through the end of 2012.
To donate, click on the “Feed the Kitties” section of this website. Then use the Paypal button to donate online, OR mail a contribution to the address posted. Donations are tax deductible (minus the wholesale value of the rewards offered).
Those rewards are:
$50.00 to $75.00 Beautifully illustrated John Hartford “OH YEAH” poster.
$75.00 to $150.00 Poster plus (upon completion of the film later) the DVD.
$150.00 to $300.00 Wood slide-top box with John Hartford photo on top, plus (upon completion of film), the DVD.
$300.00 and up Cherry miniature Lane Cedar Chest w/John Hartford & his signature on top; plus (upon completion), the DVD.
Thanks for all the continued enthusiasm and support!
It’s official! We have launched our Kickstarter campaign to raise finishing funds, and it will continue from now through the IBMA, AMA, and NERFA conferences, and conclude on November 15th. You can find our Kickstarter page at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/657235707/john-hartford-oh-yeah-documentary-of-his-life-and
Every donation receives a piece of John Hartford memorabilia, and remember NO pledge is too small (and NO pledge too large), but every pledge makes a big difference towards our goal. This is a project that has been in progress for seven years… let’s get it to the finish!
Big thanks from us to all of you who have already pledged, and to those of you who are about to…
Happy news! It’s official! We have just released a 6+ minute trailer for the John Hartford documentary! You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhMBwbWV9UQ
We are releasing this trailer in advance of our upcoming fund-raiser on Kickstarter in an attempt to fund the final stages of editing and finishing. Stay tuned for more details about that in the next month, as we are preparing some nice premiums for donors at the various levels.
I’m pleased to say we were able to get the remaining critical interviewing done thanks to the wonderful grant we received from the Foundation for Bluegrass Music in 2010, and we are most grateful to the Foundation for deeming the documentary important and worthy of their support.
Sheila and I had a great time attending the John Hartford Memorial Festival in Bean Blossom, IN earlier this month. The line-up was top-notch, and I have to say it was one of the best festivals we’ve been to in a long time. We took advantage of the opportunity to tape an interview with Tut Taylor, dobro player of the original Aereoplain band, and one of the greats, who performed several times and gave a workshop during the festival. He gave us a wonderful interview, and we look forward to including his comments in the film!
We premiered the new trailer for the film at the Fest and had some great feedback and responses from attendees. A few tweaks later, now it’s fit for consumption, so feel free to forward the link above liberally and let all your friends who love John Hartford know about it.
As for the future of the Festival, it’s important to note: there is a movement underway to try and ensure that it can happen again next year, but they will need lots of help helping spread the word, promoting it and funding it. There is already a fund-raiser event being planned at a venue in Missouri in mid-July this summer. For more on that, go to http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=201092943270172 or stay tuned, we will post more details here as they develop.
And now it’s time for another ….What’s Happening With the John Hartford Documentary update. We (Marcy and Sheila) have been busy with the organizational process of our film clips for the documentary. Since Marcy lives in Virginia and Sheila lives in Kentucky , it is hard to get together as often as we would like to keep things moving forward. At the beginning of 2011 we discovered how helpful Skype conferencing can be in the editing of our film. We have made major progress in the creation and organization of our chapters for the Documentary through our meetings via Skype.
Marcy has been grinding away (using her animation skills) to complete our trailer called the Life and Music of John Hartford. Hopefully we will be showing our trailer at the John Hartford Memorial Festival that John Hotze is putting together in Bean Blossom, Indiana.
Visit www.johnhartfordmemfest.com for complete details of the John Hartford Memorial Festival coming Wednesday June 1 through Saturday June 4.
This event is being held at the Bill Monroe Memorial Park in Bean Blossom, Indiana.
We are starting our funding campaign for the money it will take to complete this project. We have been accepted by Kickstarter and we will place our project on the Kickstarter fund raising web site as soon as our trailer is completed. Thanks to Berk Bryant , we have been introduced to a gentleman who has the original manufacturing machinery for Lane’s Cedar Chests from the 1920’s and Patrick Huchens is making a final run of miniature chests with John’s picture and signature for us to use in our fund raising . These miniature chests will be very unique John Hartford memorabilia as there will be no more runs on this machinery . Visit Kickstarter.com in the upcoming weeks for our spot featuring our documentary film on John Hartford.
Marcy and Sheila made a trip to Niagra Falls, Ontario right after Thanksgiving 2010 to interview Glen Campbell. Glen was wonderful. He provided us with an interview spiced with his Donald Duck vocals…Back in the 60’s John Hartford went to see Dr. Zhivago and was touched by the plot of the movie. He went out to eat after the movie and wrote the lyrics to Gentle on My Mind on a napkin at the table where he was dining. This song changed the life of John Hartford as well as the life of Glen Campbell. Glen put the song out to the public on his Glen Campbell Good Time Hour and John Hartford became a regular on Glen’s show.. This song gave John enough royalties to financially allow John to have the freedom to be creative in his musical journey.
This documentary film will be an archival piece of musical history/ riverboat history told through John’s own eyes and through the the eyes of many of those folks with whom he shared his life journey. John’s musical story will unfold in detail and John’s sense of humor will wind in and out of his story like the rivers John loved.
There’s a very special event going on this weekend in Bean Blossom, Indiana, (at the same campground as the great Bill Monroe festival which happens the week after). It’s a festival dedicated to the memory of John Hartford, and we will be there along with a huge, GREAT line-up of performers. Tim O’Brien, Tut Taylor, the Infamous Stringdusters, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Danny Barnes, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Dean Webb and the Missouri Boatride, Rodney Dillard and the Dillard band, Chatham County Line, the Hillbenders, Jamie Hartford & Friends, the Freighthoppers, Greensky Bluegrass, Leroy Troy, Henhouse Prowlers, Midnight from Memphis, Branded Bluegrass, Bawn in the Mash, the Two High String Band, and Colin O’Brien to name a bunch. For the full line-up go to their wonderful website at: http://www.johnhartfordmemfest.com/
We have lots and lots to update you with about our work on the film! First and foremost, the news that we applied for and were granted a most-appreciated, extremely well-timed grant from the Foundation for Bluegrass Music, www.bluegrassfoundation.org , in the sum of $3,000. Three grand may not sound like a lot, but to us it has made all the difference in the world! It is enabling us to complete the last of our shooting, and we made immediate use of this new resource to complete our Missouri/St. Louis piece of the puzzle with a whirlwind shoot the entire second week of August. And, it will also enable us to at last snag an interview with Glen Campbell. We have a few small snippets of filming to complete, but by and large we have all the video we’ve planned out for the project, and are happily on to the task of piecing it all together now.
On our great Missouri expedition we were able to interview Billy Lee, a fiddler who played with John in his first professional band, and in the time since became a luthier and master woodcarver. We were surrounded by his fiddles and sculptures… a great setting for his interview. We also caught up with Mr. Howard Marshall, who gave us a beautiful interview and really helped fill in some of the Missouri fiddling history related to John. He, too, had photos and music to share.
We had arranged to have a talk with Ron Lutz, the well-known KFAL radio deejay who gave John his first job in radio, but his health was not permitting that day. We may not have him on tape, but we hope to at least have some more correspondence with him so we can have his input on this film.
The next day we spent a marvelous day with Mr. David Keiffer, who went to high school with John and played in the early iterations of his Missouri Ridge Runners band with him. We met up with him at John’s old high school, Burroughs, in St. Louis, and interviewed him in the principal’s office! We scanned the heck out of John’s old yearbooks while were were there, and took some pictures of the school.
Then we moved on to John’s old primary school, the Community School (just down the street form Burroughs). The principal there was a great guy, and took a long time showing us around and telling us about the school and what it was like when John was there. He, too, had photos and materials to share with us, and we again employed the scanner liberally. Impressive places, those schools. Clear evidence that John’s creativity was nurtured from early on.
From there, we swung by John’s old neighborhood, University City, and shot his family’s former house. We talked with a friendly young man living there, the son of the owner, who was aware of the house’s former resident. He actually lives in John’s old room, and tried taking up the banjo once to see if could actually channel some of John’s essence out of the old place.
John’s college, Washington University, it turned out, was only about 3 blocks from that house. So it was easier than we’d anticipated to just walk over and shoot some pictures there. We had not made any contacts at the office, which I kind-of regret, but we still stuffed an awful lot into our visit.
From there we swung down to Delmar Street and the St. Louis Walk of Fame, where we enjoyed looking at all the stars on the way to John’s, which we shot photos of, natch. It had been a Loooong day of shooting at that point (in 108 degree heat), so we put away the cameras and had ourselves a drinkie at Blueberry Hill to round out the day.
The next day was much more laid back. We had a fun interview with Mr. Bob Skaggs at his home outside St. Louis. He is a guitar player who used to play with Gene Goforth and his band, and we picked his brain a bit about his and John’s associations with Gene and some of the other Missouri musicians we know John to have played with. Howard Marshall joined us for there for the afternoon, and when the taping was done we broke out our instruments and jammed for a few hours. What a huge treat!
Our trip to St. Louis would not have been complete without a visit with John Hotze the next morning. He was able to tell us a lot about the John he knew as a teen, and he is a well-known archivist of John’s music as well as a videographer and documentarian of many other folk and bluegrass musicians. We found out-to our surprise-John played with Hartford and guitarist Paul Briedenbach as a teen in the 50s as yet another one of the Missouri Ridge Runners (there were various combinations of the band that went by that name, so there are a lot more Ridge Runners running around than we realized… all coming out of the woodwork now).
John is the creator and caretaker of the John Hartford memorial website www.johnhartford.org, and is organizing a a great event coming up you all should know about: a John Hartford Memorial Festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana during the first week of June, 2011. See www.johnhartfordmemfest.com. We had a great visit with him, and again made good use of the scanner. Then we said our farewells both to him and to St. Louis, and had to head back down the road back to reality. All in all, we feel it was one of our best shoots of the whole project.
In other news, we are also very excited to see that the John Hartford Stringband’s “Memories of John” album has come to fruition, and they are really getting it out there! It’s a lovely recording, with some meaningful guest artists, and you are really going to want one of these if you don’t have it already. Go to http://www.johnhartfordstringband.com to find it.
As the summer winds down and the fall unfolds we will be hitting it heavily writing and editing, but I will try to do more updates on this site as we go. Thanks to all of you who continue to encourage and support our effort… it is nice to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
Things have been busy since we resumed our production schedule in February. We conducted our final major round of interviews in early March ‘09 during a shoot in Nashville. The trip began with a full day’s visit with John’s daughter Katie and her mother Betty (John’s first wife). We interviewed them both and explored the contents of John’s former office, which Katie and her husband have lovingly and painstakingly organized over the course of many months. We scanned and photographed everything we thought we might be able to use to tell John’s story. Katie and her mother were most patient, gracious, and helpful, pulling out things they knew we’d be interested in as we sorted through the numerous Smithsonian-esque collections of information and memorabilia that were once the contents of John’s office. It was a huge boost to our archive, providing some important material from John’s childhood, teens and 20s that we didn’t have much of before that.
The next day we set off to Berry Hill and had two fantastic interviews with Ron McCoury and Mark Howard at Mark’s studio. Ron brought some photos to share, and we scanned them on the spot. We taped both Ron and Mark playing their favorite John Hartford tunes on mandolin and banjo respectively… wonderful! It was a thrill getting to talk with the producer of John’s many wonderful Small Dog-a-Barkin’ recordings. Talking with Ronnie about John was a pure delight as well. He had a lot to say and all of it was good.
The next morning we got over to talk with Cowboy Jack Clement at his Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa. Jack produced John’s Gum Tree Canoe, Annual Waltz, and Down on the River albums.
We concluded the trip by spending an afternoon with Jamie Hartford and his family, and finally taped our official interview with Jamie. He, too, was wonderfully helpful with details and pointing us towards some of the remaining pieces of the puzzle.
These trips are as exhausting as they are fun and fascinating and amazing… it’s a lot of input in a short time and a constant go, go, go the whole time. We’re a little bit glad to have that part behind us, a little bit sad. We have just a few remaining folks to catch… Glen Campbell and a few others steamboat-related friends of John’s, but we have otherwise wound down the interviewing stage of this project.
There are two remaining location shoots we’re planning; one in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where the paddlewheeler Julia Belle Swain, the steamboat John piloted the most, still runs river excursions; and the other in St. Louis, John’s original hometown.
At the same time, we are gearing up the editing phase. Our edit capability is up and running and we are about halfway done logging all our materials for the edits to come. We’re in the process of seeking some funding, since this part of the process will start requiring more major expenditures than the sorts we’ve incurred up until now (which have been mainly travel, equipment and supply expenses). It’s been just 2 of us working on the documentary until now, but in coming months we’ll be pulling in some key professional people to help. We are also in the process of exploring our manufacturing and distribution options and expenses. Time to put it all together.
We’ve written our Senators… you can help by doing the same!
Here’s a reprint of letter just sent out by Franz Neumeier of www.save-the-delta-queen.org (forwarded to us by Don Sanders):
Senator George Voinovich of Ohio has introduced a “Save the Delta Queen” bill in the U.S. Senate (bill no. S. 3498) by exempting her from the 1966 Safety at Sea Law. Support comes from at least seven other Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, and there are more to join in soon.
While this bill alone will not save the Delta Queen directly, it raises enormous attention and is an important step. Newspapers, TV and radio stations and blogs are reporting about the Save the Delta Queen efforts frequently and the number of media coverage increases every day now.
PLEASE, ASK YOUR SENATOR FOR SUPPORT!
Let’s utilize this momentum! Get on the phone, go to your Senator’s local offices, fire up your fax machines and urge your Senators to support and co-sponsor this important bill (S. 3498) to give the Delta Queen a chance to survive. Contact your local newspapers and TV stations to report about what it means to you and your community if the Delta Queen disappears forever. Even if you did contact your Senator before, give them an update and let them know about the bill no. S 3498.
You’ll find the contact information for your Senator at:
www.senate.gov  (in the upper right corner, just choose your state; phone numbers and addresses of your Senators will be listed).
THE DELTA QUEEN IS SAFE!
Don’t forget to point out that all this is not about safety, because the Delta Queen in fact is a very safe boat. Detailed information about the Delta Queen’s safety can be found at deltaqueen.wordpress.com/deltaqueensafety/ .
Already on the list of cosponsors of bill S. 3498 are: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Barack Obama (D-Illinois), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), and Richard Lugur (R-Indiana).
You might also want to call these Senator’s offices to let them know how much you appreciate their support. They need to hear from all of us that they’re doing the right thing.
After a long period of struggles and doubts, I eventually do have the strong feeling that we can win this battle! The Delta Queen will be saved if we all work together. Please, contact your Senator right now. We don’t have much time to lose. Thank you very much for your help!
This is an important appeal to all John Hartford fans and steamboat enthusiasts that THE DELTA QUEEN is in dire need of your activism NOW to prevent her being sidelined over a technical safety requirement that was enacted mainly for oceangoing vessels and would needlessly remove her valuable historic and educational presence from the river.
There was an article in the Nov. 1st issue of USA Today (section D) about this, then an email came in yesterday from Don Sanders with information and youtube links to a short film which explains the dilemma and how we all can help out (see the following).
To understand the problem and find out how to help, view this excellent two-part short film on youtube:
There is more information available at
and there is a petition you can sign at
Let your congressional state and district reps know this awful loophole must be addressed SOON and that the consequences, if it isn’t, will be dire for the Delta Queen. This ship isn’t just a quaint tour-boat… it’s an incredibly important living museum of our American heritage on the river-ways. For all the folks who keep her running… a HUGE labor of love… and for all Americans who wish to have any idea of what commerce was like in the 19th century, lets do all we can to preserve it!
At long last we’ve gone live with TwangCentral! What a milestone for this two-person team. As we launch this site we are wrapping up the production stage of the documentary with some of our final interviews. With the resources collected during our part-time efforts in the last 3 years now coming together, we’ll be channeling our efforts into the most intense work of all, cutting this film together. We have had a lot of help getting to this point from a lot of positive, constructive, fun people, and we will attempt to enumerate them on this site in the coming months, but in the meantime we’d like to especially thank Mr. David Schenk for the use of his wonderful photography in this site’s graphics; Mr. Stephen Hardesty, web/blog consultant extraordinaire, who set this site set up for us; and Mike Nichols, who helped immensely with our editing.
In late February we have some of our last interviews planned; we will be talking with David Bromberg, Mark Schatz and his wife Eileen, and the Smothers Brothers. We’re excited and look forward to hearing their comments and stories about John.
Thanks for looking us up…. More news to come!