January 17 2021

J.T.

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Today is singer/ songwriter Steve Earle’s birthday. He was born on this day in 1955.

Earlier this month Steve Earle and his band the Dukes released a new album J.T. in tribute to Steve Earle’s late son, Justin Townes Earle.

J.T. released January 4, 2021 on what would have been Justin Townes Earle’s 39th birthday. The album covers 10 songs from the Justin Townes Earl catalog, and one new song by Steve Earle, “Last Words,” that he wrote in tribute to his late son.

Steve Earle has released tribute albums in the past. Tributes to Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark who were his friends and mentors through his earliest days in music. J.T. was different. Not only was he reliving the pain of losing his son and fellow band member, he began working on the album only months after his son’s death.

Townes was released in 2009, it won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Guy released in 2019, the album is a reminder of the greatness of the words and wisdom of the Great Guy Clark.

Justin Townes Earle died alone in his Nashville apartment of what is reportedly an accidental drug overdose August 23, 2020.

J.T.’s middle name Townes was given to him by his father and yes, he is affectionately named for the late Townes Van Zandt. In my opinion Justin Townes music is very similar to the darkness of Townes.

Justin Townes Earle began writing at an early age. He spent some time on the road with his father’s band the Dukes and was also part of the bluegrass band the Swindlers and of the rock band the Distributors. He created his own style of music a mixture of folk, blues, and country.

From his website, www.justintownesearle.com,  Justin Earle says this of the sound:

“I see it the same way that Gram Parsons did,” he says. “There’s this idea of moving forward and playing with newer sounds and different modes, but at the same time making sure you keep one foot firmly planted in the past as you feel out the future. I think it’s really important to leave a trail, you know? Put down some breadcrumbs behind you.”

Besides Justin Townes Earle’s debut album, Yuma, He released eight full-length albums. In 2009, Justin was recognized with an Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year. In 2011 he received Song of the Year for “Harlem River Blues“.

“All my records have been written to be records, rather than writing a group of songs and seeing if they fit together.”

Justin Townes Earle

When this old world seems to be spinning out of control, I am grateful that I have music to fall back on. Life is a little smoother with artists like Steve and Justin Townes Earle streaming music to my ears. Though J.T. may not be here in the physical earth, his spirit and his music will live on for many moons to come.

You made me laugh, you made me cry
You showed me truth, you told me lies
You tore my heart apart and then
You brought me back the piece again
Now I don’t know what I’ll do
Until the day I follow you
Through the darkness to the light
‘Cause I loved you for all your life

– Steve Earle “Last Words

I cannot say it any better about some of my favorite musicians,

Pancho.

January 16 2021

American Kid

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Rich O’Toole’s Twitter account gives an accurate description of him, it reads Singer, Songwriter, Texan.

Yesterday this Houston native artist posted on Twitter that he had tested positive for the Coronavirus. He also posted himself in a video eating a raw onion. He was crunching the whole white raw onion as if one would eat an apple. He said he couldn’t smell it, nor taste it. Later he did the same with a Jalapeno pepper to the same effect. Of course, the pepper still got to him with it’s heating effect. Even though he couldn’t taste it, he felt the fire.

Kids, don’t try this at home…

Recent studies have proven that up to 80 percent of people who test positive for Covid have shown these symptoms of loss of taste and smell. These two signs are most likely in connection with each other as you can’t taste most foods without your sense of smell. The loss of taste and smell has become one of the primary warning signs that you should get tested for the virus if you are showing either of these symptoms.

O’Toole’s music is mostly upbeat. It fits into the Texas Country or Red Dirt genre. It is country and rock and Americana. He is a Texan and an American and that is reflected in the heart and soul of every song he plays.

The more songs I have listened to from this guy the more that I have liked his style. He has said recently that he wasn’t going to tour again until this year,(2021). If and when, things get back to normal. O’Toole has followed the recommended safe practices during this pandemic, yet he still came into contact with the rapidly spreading virus. I hope he will get well soon. I would bet he will. He has plenty more songs to write.

Back On My Bullshit.” Rich O’Toole called it his favorite song from his New York album last July in an interview with Justin Loretangely, who’s blog is called Pro Country.

The songs “American Steel,” and one of O’Toole’s singles, “American Kid” describe the kinds of things I like to do. Hit the highways to some unknown out of the way destination. During this Pandemic I have missed a lot of windshield time and the road trips that I love. To climb into my truck and turn up the music and just drive to see where I end up is probably one of my favorite pastimes. Rich O’Toole’s music will definitely be on my next road trip playlist.

I aim to catch Rich O’Toole down the backroads one of the days in the near future. I hope and pray to catch more live shows in 2021 than I ever have in the past. For now, we as fans need to do our part to support these artists by buying merchandise and music.

I long for the days of post pandemic and more music.

Pancho.

January 14 2021

On the Road Again

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Rolling Stone reported today that Willie has gotten his COVID vaccination. I made light of their post on Twitter humorously saying on my Re-tweet that Willie is probably more immune to most things that would kill normal people.

Willie has always been larger than life in my eyes. His music has made him immortal, as the music that he has already recorded will live on forever. Some of those songs have gotten me through the best of times and the worst of times. His songs have always comforted me when I was sad and have kept me company when I felt alone. I don’t know how many miles I have driven hearing his voice on the car stereo. His music has healed my soul through sickness, depression, divorces and all the other problems I have encountered in my life. Willie’s music has also been there for me to turn up and just kick back and let the good times roll.

Willie received the Moderna vaccine in Cedar Park, Texas. He qualified for the vaccine as he is 87 years old and suffers from COPD. His sister and the piano player in the family band, Bobbie Nelson, also got a Moderna brand vaccine recently. Bobbie is now 90 years old.

The last time Willie Played a live show was at the Houston Livestock Show last March. He is hoping that the vaccine will soon do its job for him and the many others it has become available to. His plans are to be back on the road again by late August or September of this year.

For now, Willie has been working on several projects at home. There is talk of an album by Willie Nelson and his sons Lukas and Micah.

Willie told Rolling Stone that the vaccine left his arm a little sore but he was happy to be doing his part.

I can’t wait until he is on the road again

Pancho.

January 13 2021

Folsom Prison

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On this day, January 13 in 1968, the “Man in Black” played two shows at Folsom Prison. He was backed by June Carter, Carl Perkins, and The Tennessee Three. The live recordings from these performances would find themselves on an album later that year.

In May 1968, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was released by Columbia Records. The album consisted of 15 tracks from Cash’s first performance that winter day at Folsom and two from the second.

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was a hit. The album reached number one on the country charts. This album was a turning point in Johnny Cash’s career as he had seen a downturn due to his drug abuse problems.

Johnny Cash first found an interest in Folsom Prison while serving in the Air Force. His unit watched the 1951 film, Inside the Walls at Folsom Prison. Watching this film, was what inspired Johnny Cash to write the song, “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Inmates from all across the country could relate to Johnny Cash’s perception of what life as an inmate might be like. Some of these inmates wrote to Cash asking him to play for them at their prisons. The first prison Johnny was able to oblige this request was at Huntsville in Texas. Home of Texas death row. Way back in 1957.

Cash later would record other albums from inside prison walls. In 1969 he recorded At San Quentin. 1973 would see Johnny Cash record from a prison in Sweden called, Österåker Prison. From a prison inTennessee in 1974, Cash would join with Linda Ronstadt, Roy Clark, Foster Brooks and the Tennessee Threeto record the album, A Concert Behind Prison Walls.

Cash is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His genre-spanning music embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel sounds. This crossover appeal earned him the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.-Wikipedia

“Life is the question and life is the answer, and God is the reason, and love is the way.”

– Johnny Cash

The world needs more Johnny’s do what you love and love what you do and love people and follow your dreams.

Pancho.

January 11 2021

Robert Earl Keen, a Living Legend

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my very favorite Texas singer/songwriters, Robert Earl Keen. In my books REK is a living legend.

Robert Earl Keen was born January 11, 1956. He grew up on the southwest side of Houston, Texas. His father Robert Earl Keen Sr. was a geologist while his mother was an attorney.

From an early age, Keen excelled in literature and was an avid reader. After graduating high school at Sharpstown in 1974, Keen attended Texas A&M University. With a Bachelor of Arts in English, Keen graduated Texas A&M in 1978.

It was during his days in college station where he met fellow Texas singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett. Keen and Lovett would collaborate to write “The Front Porch Song.

The Front Porch Song” is still one of my favorite songs in Robert Earl Keen’s portfolio. I can listen to it over and over. I think it is an essential listen for anyone who is a fan of Folk and/or Americana music.

The song was first released in 1984 on Robert Earl Keen’s debut album, No Kinda Dancer.

Robert Earl Keen’s songs provide a perfect portrait of scenes from all across the Lone Star State and beyond. His songs never get old. His voice is easy to listen to. His songs are written with the skill of a proven storyteller. Not to mention the sensational bluegrass back -up band he has pieced together through the years. I still get mesmerized by the acoustics of his mandolins, guitars, and the occasional fiddle.

Since that 1984 debut album, No Kinda Dancer, Robert Keen now has nineteen records to his name. Every one of them as good if not better than the first.

To echo the words of my little brother, Luke, “I can always have a better day just by listening to Robert Earl Keen sing Corpus Christi Bay.

“I’ve known a whole lot of Bulls in my time and their work is never done”

– ROBERT EARL KEEN

There work is never done.

Pancho.

January 10 2021

In big old black and bloody letters, ten feet tall

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Music has been used as a media for protest. It is a way to make a statement and share a point of view to the listener in a poetic setting. In certain Nations, there has been censorship of this outlet. It is a way to prevent the audience from hearing the message that the government deemed inappropriate.

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term “freedom of expression” is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.- WIKIPEDIA

Freedom is the reason I am proud to be an American. The Constitution protects the Freedom of speech. Freedom is the reason I continue to write.

Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.-WIKIPEDIA

Well, it’s only gonna be about an hour, friend

‘Til they dam your favorite river

So you can water-ski just one more reservior

And them supersonic ships are gonna take you

‘Cross a sea of pavement

To one more faceless brickyard on the shore

I never would have thought that in my lifetime, I would be seeing the censorship that I have seen this week in the United States of America. This week, our President, (Yes, he is still the president until noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20) was censored on the Social Media outlet called Twitter. Apple and YouTube have followed suit by blocking the popular social media app Parler and by removing certain videos that may support the ideas of this U.S. President.

Yeah, it’s only gonna be about an hour or so

‘Til they rip off all your mountains, boy

And that one last tired old eagle bites the sand

And all of that high-and-mighty scenery’s

Gonna be leveled to the ground, boy

By a bunch a’ them mindless strip mines on the land

I have expressed in the past my political stance which is neither here nor there where this article is concerned. What is the issue is the way that these large corporations have been able to come in and overstep the Constitution of The United States of America. I am appalled by the fact that the media has only reported half truths and the incoming administration, who has been under such scrutiny has continued to damage this already damaged nation through the ways they are handling the current crisis that has affected us all. The corona virus and the economy I will place at the top of the list.

So listen well, my brothers

When you hear the night wind sigh

And you see the wild goose flying

Through the gray, polluted sky

There won’t be no country music

There won’t be no rock ‘n’ roll

‘Cause when they take away our country

They’ll take away our soul

Through the United States Army, I served this great nation. I took the oath.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God).”

During my time in the service, Bill Clinton happened to be the President of the United States. Therefore, my Commander in Chief. I may not have liked him, I certainly didn’t vote for him, but I did follow his orders and the orders of the officers appointed over me because of the oath that I had made. Was Clinton any worse or better than the current administration? Seriously folks, President Donald Trump has 10 days left in office. I really don’t see how he is being blamed for inciting some sort of riot and even if he did so what?

We the people are also granted the right to protest and the right to assemble and those rights are also protected by our Constitution.

Well, it’s only gonna take about a minute or so

‘Til the junkyards fell the prairies, boy

And them smokin’ yellow grass fires start to burn

And the warnings on them beer cans

Gonna be buried in them landfills

No deposit, no sad songs, and no returns

“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” Aaron Tippin once sang.I am singing right now that we as American’s have got to start standing together or we are going to fall and fall hard. The buttons that are being pushed by todays media are what has incited these riots. We the People are not sheep being led to slaughter. We the People have rights that are supposed to be protected by this government who is just as guilty of not upholding the Constitution as the protesters who turned to violence are guilty. The ideas that the left thought it was okay to march on some place like Portland Oregon but didn’t think that it was okay to march on Washington is not okay. It isn’t ok for any of us who choose to call ourselves American.

Yeah, it’s only gonna take about a minute or so

‘Til the factories blot the sun out

You gonna have to turn your lights on just to see

And them lights are gonna be neon, sayin’

“Fly Our Jets To Paradise”

And the whole damn world is gonna be made of styrene

We as Americans need to be American enough to keep our country free. This country has prided itself on being a country who doesn’t need assistance from anyone to survive. Why have we begun to rely on foreign trade and products from other places when we are perfectly capable of providing such products for ourselves?

Yeah, it’s only gonna be about a second, boy

‘Til they take away all’a this country

And they’ll tell you not to listen to this here song

And that far-off sound of freedom’s

Gonna be an echo from the past

And the final tune is gonna be sad and long

To Twitter, Apple, and YouTube:

Stop the censorship/ be kind to your fellow man/ have you ever taken the time to try and put yourself in somebody else’s shoes? What if the entire world suddenly traded in their iPhones for a Samsung? What if We The People founded our own social media site. What are you going to do when the people start streaming their music on other platforms?

And it’s only gonna be about an eye-blink, boy

‘Til they pull out the wool to blind us

So we just can’t read all the messages on the wall

But the only words that matter

Oughta be scribbled all over them billboards

In big old black and bloody letters, ten feet tall

In my book, the only words that matter are that we have to find Union and step away from the division that has been happening for so many years in this country. Respect those whom we made the oath too whether or not we happen to agree. We The People have a right to opinion, but we must respect other opinions that don’t necessarily align with our own.

So listen well, my brothers

When you hear the night wind sigh

And you see the wild goose flying

Through the gray, polluted sky

There won’t be no country music

There won’t be no rock ‘n’ roll

‘Cause when they take away our country

They’ll take away our soul

There won’t be No Country Music(There Won’t Be No Rock in Roll) – written and performed by C.W. McCall aka Bill Fries.

Pancho.

January 9 2021

Don’t let your babies grow up to pick guitars

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“Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to pick guitars is what I said first.. I thought wait a minute and I changed it to cowboys.”

ED BRUCE

I learned via Fox News that his publicist, Jeremy Westby confirmed that Country singer/ songwriter Ed Bruce died on Friday of natural causes at his home in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Ed Bruce is famous for writing the iconic hit song, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”  The song was co-written with his wife Patsy Bruce. His version of the song can be heard on a 1976 self-titled album published by United Artist Records. Bruce’s version reached number 15 on the Hot Country Singles charts in 1976.

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” would become even more famous after Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings released the song on their 1978 duet album, Waylon & Willie. The Waylon/ Willie version peaked to number one in March of ’78. The song would spend a month at the top of the country charts. The song also earned a Grammy Award for the pair of outlaws for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Willie Nelson’s version featured in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman which starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

In 1994 Gibson/Miller band recorded a cover version of the song which was featured in the soundtrack for the movie The Cowboy Way. The Gibson/Miller version reached #49 on the charts.

Shooter Jennings recorded a version that appeared as the introduction to the Netflix Series, The Ranch.

My wife and I both agree that, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is one of the most memorable songs from our childhood. She recalled listening to the song with her brother J. on the way to “grandma’s house.” For me I think it was probably the first song that I remember knowing all of the words to. I recall singing the song along with the radio on family trips as well.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose the song as one of the top 100 Western songs of all time. -Wikipedia

Other songs in the Ed Bruce catalog are “My First Taste of Texas,” “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” and “The Last Cowboy Song.”

You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had” saw the top of the country charts in 1982.

William Edwin Bruce Jr. Was born December 29, 1939 in Keiser, Arkansas. He first caught the attention of Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee where he wrote and recorded under the name Edwin Bruce. Ed Bruce did release many songs by himself but most of his success was through the songs he had written that were recorded by other people.

Ed would set his songwriting aside in the mid to late 80’s and turn to acting. He appeared in some made for TV films and hosted the shows, Truckin’ USA and American Sports Calvacade. With Stephen Seagal, Ed Bruce would appear on the big screen in the movie Fire Down Below.

Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold

They’d rather give you a song than diamonds or gold

Lone star belt buckles and old faded Levi’s

And each night begins a new day

If you don’t understand him, and he don’t die young

He’ll probably just ride away

Songwriters: Ed Bruce/ Patsy Bruce

And If you don’t understand him, and he don’t die young, He’ll probably just ride away,

Pancho.

January 8 2021

New Music by Aaron Watson

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Released today, Jan 8, 2021 Aaron Watson’s newest album American Soul. The full length album features 10 tracks including “Whisper My Name.” This first single off the album has already had over 2.5 million streams. The song plays tribute to Aaron Watson’s musical career beginnings.

I have been an Aaron Watson fan I guess since the days he made his start in the 1990’s as he worked his way around the honky tonks of West Texas.  I have met the man personally and have seen several of his shows. He is the real deal always putting his family and his Christian roots first in his life, yet still managing a productive and powerful music career. We share the same last name and although we are not related, I have been known to call him “cuz.” I once even talked him into letting me sit as his private table during a concert in Midland, Texas stating that I was his cuz.

I really jumped on board in appreciation of Aaron’s singing and songwriting through his album in 2002, Shut Up And Dance. The songs reminded me of the hell that life had begun to throw at me by then. Aaron Watson has a simple style that rings of the old time country sound that I love. I can relate to his songs about loss and love and the cowboy life. Aaron’s earliest musical influences were the songs he sang in church with his family, and the music of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

My favorite stuff by him comes from the Underdog album. My middle child and I used to play it and sing along to every song. I am looking forward to giving the new album a full listen. Aaron Watson is certainly not the “underdog” anymore.

I truly appreciate Aaron Watson. I have enjoyed watching him from his earliest beginnings and seeing what a star he is becoming today.

Pancho.

January 7 2021

Soldiers of Fortune

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With the events of the last few days in politics, I have seen many posts from both sides of the “fence.” Social media, and all of the news channels have been flooded with he said, she saids. I really can’t see the fairness in the way that the situation has been handled by our government officials. The media seems to be only reporting personal opinion and not the whole truths.

During this entire election year, there has been plenty of controversy and conspiracies that have surfaced from both sides of the political spectrum. I have not agreed with much of anything either side has said lately. I do not know what to think about the protests, riots, looting, and chaos that have destroyed our American cities and has changed the way of life as we all know it.

Not to mention the corona virus and the up and down economy.

Something has got to change or we will lose what we have left as a nation.

And we’re bound for the border

We’re soldiers of fortune

And we’ll fight for no country but we’ll die for good pay

Under the flag of of the greenback dollar

Or the peso down Mexico way

Steve Earle’s “Mercenary Song” was one of his first songs. It is also one of his best songs. In the recent events, I was reminded of this great story song.

I see politics becoming more and more a fight for money, power, and overall control. Many politicians are doing what is best for them personally rather than what is best for the country as a whole.

In the days of Pancho Villa he had this to say on politicians:

“They spend their time discussing nonsense and stealing money that belongs to the people”

-Pancho Villa

The song also reminds me that If we don’t like something for the way it is, we CAN change it. Sure I have daydreams of leading a revolution. I seriously doubt I will act on it. Revolutions are however how nations are born. The United States was birthed many years ago when a group of people, tired of being oppressed, stood up against the British rule. Many nations before and even after began this way.

“We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.”

– CHE GUEVARA

We are given the right to protest. BUT we also must pay a price when it doesn’t go our way. There is consequence for when laws are broken. BUT if you are willing to stand up for what you believe in, you must be willing to accept the consequence.

Under the flag of the greenback dollar
Or the peso down Mexico way

Pancho.

January 3 2021

Seed of Triumph

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Things are seemingly foggy this morning. Not in the sense of foggy weather, however foggy in my mind. Brain fog. It is like an overload of information that is all circling in my mind at such a high rate of speed by the time I reach in to catch a thought, the idea has passed. I catch the tail of this, the head of that. This jumbled up material in my brainstorming makes absolutely no sense to me or anybody else.

Still not feeling well today. I went to a doc in a box yesterday. I really felt like I had the corona virus and a brain tumor all at the same time. (Not that I would know what either felt like). I went through the process. Vitals ok, check. What are your symptoms? body ache, head ache, on a scale of 1-10 how great is the pain? 7. Ok check. What else? I have no energy. Ok so you are showing signs of fatigue? Yes. What’s your major complaint? Head ache, sinus pressure, body ache, fatigue. I had a coworker who told me that he had been exposed to the virus. His wife tested positive. He has since tested positive as well. Ok so you want a swab test? Yes. During the process my nasal cavity felt as if it had been violated. This was my second experience with this type of test. This time it hurt much worse than previously. After what seemed like an eternity, the result of the test came back. NEGATIVE. Also negative for strep, and the flu. The diagnosis was a viral infection. I was instructed to treat with over the counter medication, rest, and fluids.

I am grateful for the negative test. So people can still be just sick and not corona virus sick? This is all good news. I understand the corona is real and it is killing a huge rate of people all across the planet Earth. I also found out yesterday, my own daughter has the virus. I checked in with her today. Her symptoms are much the same as what I too am having. I would love to trade my negative for her positive.

I am a huge baby when it comes time for me to be sick. I can be needy and irritable and very selfish and self centered. My wife reminded me of this yesterday. She is suffering the same symptoms and has been for some time. I tend to blow her off. Sometimes I minimize her feelings. This is something that have recognized I need to work on.

“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.”

– OG Mandino

If I have learned nothing else through this experience, I have learned how I need to treat others. This life is not all about me.

I read a Christian blog last night. I agreed with his idea that 2020 was the worst year ever because of the pandemic, because of the election, or the economy is a false notion. The same problems that happened in 2020 have been repeated in history countless times over. Sure I will state that 2020 was a bad year for us all. I have recently posted that 2021 will get better it has too. We have to get better. I can start by saying, I have to get better.

Let’s all laugh a little more, care for each other, show genuine and honest compassion for our fellow man.

In order to change the world, we must first start within ourselves.

Pancho.