As the sun rises over the river in the summertime , I often look back and remember those I have known from places long ago and far away. I wonder what happened to them when they became older. Did they fall in love with someone and live happily ever after or did they find happiness in living a life of solitude? Are they alive or did something happen to them along the way. So many questions, sometimes I like to imagine the answers.

Her name was Fernanda Caroline da Silva, her stepfather was American and worked for the Embassy on the island. Her mother was from the islands and her name was Cecilia like the song by Simon&Garfunkel. As with most people from the islands, she had dark hair and light brown skin. We were young when we met, I was nine and she was probably my same age. I had moved there from America, my father worked at the embassy but in a different department. During the summer, people would travel to the neath and cool down from the heat by going into the ocean, I was trying to bodysurf, finding a wave to toss me around until the tidal waters brought me to the sandy shore. While getting back up from a recent attempt, at bodysurfing, I noticed her in the distance, near the beach umbrellas and people resting on towels, she was sitting and building a sandcastle with her hands, it was almost finished and seemed intricate. She did not notice me as I walked up to her and said, “ Castelo de areia agradavel!”. She smiled and said, “ Obrigado,” and then in English she added, “ It didn’t take me long to build.” “ You speak English?!” “ Of course, I have been to America few times .” We had a nice conversation about what we like and disliked about the islands. We both agreed there had to be a faster way to deliver movies to the island. By the time they reached the cinema, they were nearly a year old and not new anymore. We chatted about some other things, her mother came over and introduced herself, “ Fernanda, who is your new amiga?” She replied, “ his name is Bert Connor and his family just arrived from America.” My parents were watching this conversation and with a mixture of curiosity and concern, walked over and introduced themselves to my new friend and her mother.

We were packing up, ready to head home after a long day at the beach, we were tired , tanned and slightly sunburned. I was carrying the folding chair and my parents were carrying their belongings. Fernanda’s mother comes running up to us and asks my parents and I a question, “ Fernanda will be heading to America to attend school, she needs to practice her English,. She enjoyed talking with your son and wonders if it would be acceptable for you and him if he can come over to our house?” My parents thought for a minute and my father replied, “ That would be a great idea, my son needs to learn about the Island’s culture and language.” “ Would tomorrow be good for you?” asked Cecilia. “ That would be great!” my mom replied. My parents asked Cecilia to gave them directions to her house which was outside of the city. The next day, we drove to their house along a winding asphalt road. We turned on a dirt road to a two story beige house with red shutters faded by the sun. We pulled into the driveway and stopped the car, the door opens, Fernanda and her family were there to meet us. We walked out of the car and exchanged greetings, my parents seemed happy with the situation and their concern turned to trust . After a few minutes of conversing, they went back to the car and drove away, , coming back in a few hours. Their living room had a couch with a small table on each side holding a lamp , three straw chairs that were placed near the back windows and doors. One had a great view of the palm trees, wild flowers, and the volcanic rocks leading down to the ocean. There was native artwork and statues from the islands and posters from America. There was light blue paint on the walls and a few rugs scattered along the floor. Down the hallway,on the right was the father’s office. On the second floor were two rooms where they slept and spent some of their time. Her Dad smiled and spoke to me, “ Are you familiar with the music of the islands? Cecilia was smiling and Fernanda was beginning to grin. I told him I was not familiar, having recently arrived . He said, “ You would lite it, is a mixture of acoustic guitars, ukulele, clarinet and drums providing a rhythmic beat.” “ Sounds Interesting !” “ I have album of it , will let you hear it, the sound of it will make you dance.” Before we go any further, this was a time of innocence , people did not have ulterior motives . Her parents had the best of intentions, have an enjoyable time and maybe have a great memory. We danced more than we practiced our languages, we were laughing and moving around the floor, up and down. back and forth, no need to learn steps, just having fun. A few hours later, my parents picked me up . On the way home, I was smiling and telling them about how much fun I had dancing to this new music I had heard .

Months pass, we spend more time together , our families went horseback riding at the stables of a nearby ranch. She had a birthday and her family invited me to the party. I asked her parents , “ Should I bring a present?” Due to my small allowance, I could not buy much . Cecilia replied, “ Nada, just bring yourself! She would be glad to see you and introduce you to her friends.” My parents drove me to her house and I am dropped off at the house, I can hear Fernanda’s voice and her guests talking as the door opens and her parents bring me inside. Unfortunately , everyone is speaking Portuguese and nobody is speaking English. Fernanda sees me and tells me to come over and meet her friends. I walk over , feeling nervous, I know only a few Portuguese phrases, the ones I know I sometimes pronounce incorrectly . She gives me a friendly hug and introduces me to her friends. In her native and familiar language, she tells how we met on the beach and later danced to the music. One of her friends asked her, “ Does he dance well? “ Fernanda giggled and said, “ He tried his best, one foot in front of the other, not bad!” They all laughed, I was not sure if they laughing with me or at me. Everyone had presents for her. Some gave shell necklaces, paperback books, faux topaz ring for her finger, kites and I gave her alimizade( friendship). After all of her friends had given her presents, her father enters and announces his present. He received a promotion and they will be going to another country, this was not just a birthday party , it was a going away party . Everyone seemed happy and not that surprised, everyone knew except me. An hour later, the party was over, Fernanda thanked me for coming and said we would meet again sometime somewhere . The move happened fast, a few days later they were gone and we never kept in touch .

All this time, I always wondered what happened to her. Two years later, we returned to America, we moved around more times before I left for college and lived on my own. This was before search engines and social media sites, we had no way of knowing where someone lived or what they were doing now. Later when I had a social media account , I reached out to people who lived on the island when I did. Some wrote back and said she died in a car crash, some thought she died in a plane crash on the island. I always assumed the best, with her personality , I thought she might be working for the Island’s tourism industry as a guide or concierge. Since she enjoyed building sandcastles, she might be an engineer designing buildings to withstand catastrophes. As for me, I studied creative writing in college and work at the Colony Hill main library. I was studying at the local bookstore located on Main Street near Essential Records. There was a poster near the front door by the registers, A Carolina Silva will be reading from her recent novel “ Summer In The Islands”. Could it be the same person? She had shorter hair and wore glasses. Her hair color and skin tone were about the same. Carolina Silva would be at the bookstore on a Friday night, I made plans to attend. That Friday, I showed up, chairs were arranged in several lines facing a podium where she would speak. I spent some time looking at travel books and browsing through the mystery section. I heard the announcement over the intercom, “ Carolina Silva is about to speak, please find a seat and listen. “ I made my way to the back row, people were seated around and ahead of me. She speaks info the microphone, “ Thank you for coming , I will read the beginning of my novel. At a beach near the Montana verde, I found. a friend who gave one of the best memories of when I lived on the island. It brought joy and a great amount of pleasure..” I was so excited, she had to be writing about me. I was so happy, I did not pay much attention to the rest of the story. After she was finished speaking, tho owner of the bookstore guided her to a desk where she would sign books and talk to customers. I was so excited, waiting in the back of the line, it was really her and she remembered me! The line was moving, I was moving closer and closer to her. Then, our eyes met, she looked at me and said “ What is your name?” I said, “ Fernanda, don’t you remember me, I was the friend you met on the beach and we danced at your house?” She looked perplexed and a little uncomfortable. She gained her composure and graciously smiled as she said, “ Not to be rude, you must have me confused with someone else.” It was my turn to feel embarrassed, a few people behind me were getting impatient with me, “ Could you please sign my copy? Sorry for the trouble “. She signed my book and wrote on the blank page before the title page, “ Mi amigo, whoever she was, she must have been a wonderful person.” She handed the book to me and I head home, a mystery unsolved and a memory still remembered.

Sometimes the faces and places are best left to memory where people never change , grow older or pass away. We have these moments of friendship and hope , gives us stories to tell and brings us joy. The awkwardness gives it humor and others can relate by experiencing a similar. situation. Wherever she may be in the world, hope she reads this and is glad I have not forgotten her. Hope this brings back the good memories., alimizade.

This is the nest of the Mourning Do es.

The news was on the wire, the doves were sounding the alert, hawk was circling above looking for its next meal.

“ What are we going to do?” cooed Jane Dove to her partner John. “ We need to build a nest high up where he can’t reach or see us .” Jane bobbed her head and agreed , “ How about making a nest in the lamp on the front porch of that big house?” John Dove thought it was a great idea, “ I’ll take you there!” They fluttered their wings and flew there, landing on one of the paddles of the fan. John Dove cooed to Jane, “ Why don’t you step inside and get comfortable ? I’ll get branches and twigs to build the nest.” John flew away and brought back materials to build a nest, he would pass a twig from his beak to her beak and then go to gather more fallen branches. Jane Dove would occasionally peer down at the occupants of the house who seemed to enjoy their activities. Jane thought to herself, “ Can’t they respect our privacy?” She headed off to the neatest telephone wire, the man sitting below waited for their return .

Springtime, nearing summer, it was mating time for the doves . A male dove was in pursuit of a partner , problem was she was living with another male dove . The male dove thought to himself, “ What should I do to impress her and woo her away from her mate?” He decided to bring bigger twigs and branches than what the mate was bringing home . He would give it to her. He never understood the look on her face which seemed to say, “ What are you doing here and what am I supposed to do with all of this?” The male dove kept up his romantic advances, he would land on one paddle and move to the others before bringing his latest gifts to his female dove. He was in for a surprise, he did his same routine, moved from paddle to paddle until he would see his love. This time, John Dove was there and grunted his disapproval. It took several more times and several more grunts, before the male dove decided to find another female mate.

Days passed, years in dove time, Jane Dove was getting restless. Her and John Dove had not been able to conceive. John was away somewhere on a distant wire or walking around the gravel driveway. She was sitting low in the nest so the hawk or other predators or occupants of the house could not see her. She heard a mating coo from nearby, “ Oh , hoo, hoo, hoo!” It was another male dove saying, “ How do you do?” She was loyal to John but this call was hard to resist. She moved around in the nest and made herself visible to the male dove. He cooed and asked her if she would like to have lunch on the nearby lawn where there was a multitude of grass seed. He flew up to her and they flew away together. Before leaving, Jane Dove cooed to the man who had been watching below, “ Tell John, I will always love him.” They never came back and the nest is now abandoned .

“ Oh, don’t be silly, that couldn’t happen!” said the relative who was staying with the man. “ You’re talking crazy, doves can’t talk!” The man replied, “ I’m just observing their behavior, using my imagination , comparing their behaviors to us. We’re not that different. With that in mind, does it make more sense? “. The relative agreed, “ Yes, it does!” The news is on the wire, a nest is on the market , needs some tender loving care.

When you were younger,

you dreamed where you’ll be,

somewhere happiness

would be around you .

Through eyes and your mind,

love and peace find you .

Are you almost there?

They’ll be there to care .

It might take awhile,

give reason to smile .

You think about past,

never move forward .

Somewhere lost in time,

memories haunt you .

Time to walk away ,

talk to someone now.

Ate you almost there?

They’ll be there to care.

It might take awhile,

give reason to smile .

When you don’t belong ,

drown in misery.

Somewhere the rain falls,

cry the lonely sound .

Road is dark and long ,

light will shine on you .

Are you almost there ?

They’ll be there to care,.

It might take awhile,

give reason to smile .

When you are older,

You’ll find happiness

is not around you

but inside of you,

be happy with you.

Stay humble and true .

Are you almost there?

They’ll be there to care .

It might take awhile,

give reason to smile .

You’ll find a new friend.

Until then, have hope.

This album lives up to its title. I could write about the band’s history or the history of the bands and songs covered. Instead , I will focus on the band’s performance. All the renditions are as good as the originals. A sign of a great album is when it ends , one wants to hear more. Standouts include “ I’m A Cool Teenager” which was originally done by The Five Royales from North Carolina , “ Promised Land” by Chuck Berry, “ Greyhound” where they mention all the stops on the bus route in California and “ No Good Lover” originally performed by Mickey&Sylvia. The rhythm section does a great job on “ Ride On Red, Ride On” which deals with what happened in Jim Crow times when people would leave the south for the north. Some of the songs deal with life on the road and some of the problems that might ensue. If one loves blues , soul and rock’n’roll, this album is for you.

This is a great album! Highly recommended!😀❤️

Cover bands are known for playing other bands material. Some do a great job and sound exactly like the band they are imitating and might be as good or better than the original band. Some bands are the opposite, they play versions inferior to the original or simply exist as background music to parties . Rarer than the ones mentioned are bands who introduce unknown bands to the listener..

Saturday night in Simpsonville, a band is playing at the Warehouse which has a food court and attracts people of all ages. The name of the band is BR385, their first set is all recognizable covers of Queen “ Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and a faster rendition of “ Fortunate Son” by CCR. After a short break, they play a second set. BR is short for Brazilian and they played some Brazilian songs for the audience. Most of the people who were there were Brazilian and they reacted positively by dancing and singing along to the songs . One of the highlights of the second set was a cover of Brazilian Jorge Ben’s “ Taj Mahal”. People of a certain age will be more familiar with the song that borrowed its melody and rhythm, “ Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart. When I heard the song, I was unfamiliar with who originally recorded it. After the show, I congratulated the band on a great show and asked who originally performed “ Taj Mahal”. They told me and I was aware of a musician who I had never heard. This is the best thing a cover band can do, introduce one to an unfamiliar musician .

Same place a year ago, the place was crowded and people were having an enjoyable time. The band playing was called Intrigue and featured a saxophonist who was hitting all the right notes and playing with intensity. The other musicians were supplying the rhythm and groove with bass guitar, keyboards and drums. They were playing covers of recognizable R&B and jazz songs. One was, pun intended, intriguing . It began with a bass intro and had this engaging melody that was intricate but danceable. This listener had to know the title and who performed this composition. I sent a message to the band and they answered. It was “ Strasbourg/St. Denis” by the late Roy Hargrove . I have become a fan of Roy Hargrove’s music. This would not have happened had I not listened to Intrigue and they had not told me the name of the composition and composer.

Cover bands exist to play songs for an audience to enjoy by dancing , singing the lyrics or remembering happy times from the past. Cover bands can also cause one to buy more drinks so one cannot remember how they played or leave an establishment so they can listen to the songs by the original artists. If one is lucky, one might be introduced to music and enjoy music from a musician one has never heard.

People always talk about how lucky they were to witness an athlete at the beginning of their career , they were there to witness when Michael Jordan made his first dunk or when Wayne Gretzky made his goal or when Tom Brady threw his first touchdown. I was lucky to see Andre Hilstock run the football against high school opponents.

Being from a military family, we would move from place to place every few years. When we lived in Alameda, California , I was twelve and it was not the best time of my life. I had just begun junior high school, people at that age can be cruel and insensitive . Some family friends would take me to their son’s high school football games. The year before the team did not do well, having a losing season. This year the team was undefeated and outscoring most of their opponents, , the reason for the change was the young man who wore #5 named Andre Hillstock. Whenever he was given the football, he would outrun and outplay his defenders. His favorite path of running would be to turn near the right sideline and head towards the end zone. Most people who lived there and attended Encinal would tell the same story . He would make it look effortless, though he probably practiced hard. I would watch him play against Arroyo, Hayward, El Cerrito, Mount Eden and Piedmont . Most of those games were blowouts , due to his footwork and athleticism. The closest game was the game against San Leandro where they won 15-14. If I could compare him to an athlete at the time, it would be Eric Dickerson who played for SMU and the Los Angeles Rams.

Why hasn’t the public heard of him if he was so good? Tragedy struck at the last game against cross rivals Alameda. Encinal was ranked high in the Bay Area and California state rankings . They had won nine games and were undefeated. I was at that game, it was a rainy day and the field conditions were not good, very muddy. During one of the plays, Andre Hilstock was given the ball and fell backward . He was there motionless on the ground for a few minutes. Everyone who was cheering for Encinal was concerned and getting upset, they removed him from the game and took him to the hospital. He had a serious spinal injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. The next week, the Encinal Jets played the San Lorenzo Rebels in the high school playoffs. The Jets were pumped to win it for Hilstock but without him they could not be victorious. I remember being sad about Hilstock’s injury and their loss. Hilstock’s story made the local news, and they focused on protecting players from spinal injury. Hopefully, some changes were made. We moved from Alameda in the summer and I always wondered what happened to him.

Years later, I was exploring the internet and typed in his name. I sent him a message complimenting him on his playing, not expecting a response due to it not being him or him not wanting to relive his glory days. Time can sometimes make one wonder what could have been and some people might become depressed or angry about the situation which is understandable . Recently , out of the blue, I received a message from him, he is doing well and his children are attending college and high school. He seemed to be happy and content. I thanked him for giving me a great memory when I would watch him play . He appreciated my compliment and was amazed I remembered. He may not have achieved fame and become a household name. He accomplished something more important, he taught me and his children an important lesson, never give up and keep going when adversity comes. Work hard and remain focused , one might eventually reach their goal. If not,, one did their best and will keep trying until they do like the player who wore the jersey numbered #5.

This photo is courtesy of Mark Brown and Alameda Times Star. This is #5 in action.

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, there were many country bands like BlackHawk, Brooks&Dunn, Restless Heart , Alabama and Confederate Railroad whose music was inspired by or similar to 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd . Some of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s songs were covers or renditions of country music songs by Merle Haggard and Jimmie Rodgers. Early songs by 38 Special could have been country hits like “ Take Me Back” and “ One Time For Old Times”. Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special have been inspired by country music and have inspired later country musicians. It is not surprising to learn that members of 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd , brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant, would record and perform a rocking version of country music as Van Zant. My personal favorite and a great introduction to their sound is the live recording “ Red, White , and Blue” recorded live in Valdosta , Georgia.

Originally, the recording was not meant for release but was recorded and given by the late Larry Junstrom who was the bass guitarist for 38 Special to the Van Zant brothers who released it ten years after the original performance. Most of the songs are from the Van.Zant brothers 2005 release “ Get Right With The Man” which gave them a Top Ten country single “ Help Somebody”. There are a few Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special songs thrown into the mix. Donnie and Johnny are in fine form vocally and seem to enjoy working the crowd. No disrespect meant to those bands mentioned who may have been inspired by 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Zant gives them a great lesson on how to give a great performance , full of high energy and memorable songs with great crowd interaction. The highlights for me are “ Takin’ Up Space”, “ Things I Miss The Most”. “ I Can’t Help Myself” and “ My Kind Of Country”. Not to offend Lynyrd Skynyrd or their fans, the Van Zant’s version of “ Sweet Mama” and “ Red, White and Blue” are as good or better than the ones performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd have made great pop and rock recordings, now the brothers and members of those bands have given us a great rock country live recording. This is my kind of country . Hopefully, it might be yours.

This is what I want to do,

write a song just for you .

Will write chorus and verse ,

one can play chords – rehearse .

It’s especially for you ,

comes from the heart and true

This is what I want to do,

build a house just for you .

Nails, wood, strong foundation ,

hands will bring completion .

It’s especially for you ,

comes from the heart and true .

This is what I want to do,

let you know I love you.

The way you care and share,

how you are always there .

It’s especially for you,

comes from the heart and true .

I might not always

say it.

I might not always

show it .

I will love you always.

It’s especially for you ,

comes from the heart and true.

Around 1983 and 1984, I was getting into albums and purchasing albums at the record store located in the Naval Exchange at the now closed Naval Air Station Alameda. People growing up at the time might remember some of my purchases. I bought albums by Asia, Nena, Men At Work, Grand Funk Railroad, a compilation of sixties bands which included The Zombies, Badfinger, Gary Puckett& The Union Gap and the Tremeloes . This story is not about those purchases, this is about my introduction to two Jacksonville, Florida bands , Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special.

Being twelve, I was not aware of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s history and the tragic plane crash which took the lives of three prominent members. I remember the cover of their second album which looked liked a crude hand drawing . The photos of the members on the back were of these guys who looked tough and mean. Whenever possible, one would want to be on their good side. The album had their biggest hit “ Sweet Home Alabama “ which was an answer song to Neil Young’s “ Southern Man” and “ Alabama”. The other songs were memorable and caught my interest, a cover of J.J. Cale’s “ Call Me The Breeze” which they made their own and “ Needle And The Spoon” which was an anti drug song. I also bought their last album released before the tragic crash called “ Street Survivors” which had a wide range of styles from roadhouse blues and down home country to good time rocknroll . The album begins with a laid back tale of life on the road titled “ What’s Your Name?” . Some of the songs sung written or brought by the new guitarist would become future classics like “ I Know A Little”, “ Ain’t No Good Life” and “ You Got That Right. Other songs like the cover of Merle Haggard’s “ Honky Tonk Night Time Man” and the acoustic ballad “ I Never Dreamed” showed a looser and emotional side to the band. The highlight for me was “ That Smell” which was lyrically similar to “ The Needle And The Spoon” which was an anti drug song. There are many documentaries that talk about the inspiration for the song , it had to do with two members getting into car accidents because of reckless behavior caused by drinking and doing drugs. Now and probably then, I heard in the lyrics about the perils of drug and alcohol abuse, By doing those activities, the smell of death might surround you. At the time, I thought the guitar playing was stunning . Each member had a distinct style of playing which held my Interest. My parents were probably concerned when they heard me sing “ Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, oak tree you’re in my way. There’s too much coke and too much smoke, look what’s going on inside you.” My parents did not have to worry, Ronnie Van Zant did his job, I never cared for drugs and alcohol after hearing what might happen to you.

Ronnie Van Zant has a younger brother named Donnie , Donnie Van Zant formed a band known as 38 Special. Strange as this might sound, I was introduced to 38 Special before I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd. I heard “ Hold On Loosely “ and their big hit from 1982 “ Caught Up In You” on the radio. It also helped them gain a new fan by having a beautiful woman on the album cover and in their videos. The album I purchased by this band was “ Tour De Force”: They were one of the few southern rock acts who successfully altered their sound to appeal to listeners who enjoyed watching videos and listening to eighties bands like The Cars. What happened to 38 Special could be compared to what ZZ Top was doing, writing more high quality radio friendly songs with humorous and eye catching videos, 38 Special’s video for “ Back Where You Belong” with its humorous parody of a popular show at the time is a great example of this. “ Tour De Force” was a tour de force of great songs. Most people know of the hits from this album , “ If I’d Been The One”, “ Back Where You Belong” and “One Time For Old Times” which are still being enjoyed by fans and played by a newer version of the band today. It is the deeper cuts, the songs not released as singles which stand out. It’s a mystery why “ I Oughta Let Go” was not released as a single or played more on country radio. “ Long Distance Affair” is a more hard rocking song that could have been a contender . Years later , I am still enjoying this album. When I lived in Okinawa, I would buy an album “ Bone Against Steel” which featured a different lineup but still had some great songs like “ The Sound Of Your Voice”, “ Rebel To Rebel” and the title track. About fifteen years ago, I purchased a collection of 38 Special songs from each of their albums up to their last release at the time. Their songs still have this wild eyed American boy rocking into the night.

Music has a way of bringing back memories and remembering stories from back when. Sometimes I look back and it’s like looking at a photo of myself at the time , embarrassing and awkward were my clothes, looks and musical taste. Other times I rediscover bands I might have forgotten and gain a new appreciation for their music by watching a documentary or music video. Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special are still bands I enjoy , their music from that time is still worth remembering and replaying .

It’s going to be right this time,

everything will be fine,

the truth is better than the lies.

Find a hello in a goodbye.

A better shade of blue for you,

how the clouds clear and sun shines,

move forward to something brand new.

Open your heart and open eyes.

Where you been, you know the story .

Where you go, story keeps changing .

Sometimes the journey is better

than the final destination .

Take your time and experience

what the real world has to offer.

Your fears are what will hold you back.,

conquering fears will set you free.

Morning is a new beginning.

All you need is hope and prayer.

and a little faith in yourself .

Give it your all, always stay strong .

May not always be right this time,

everything will not be fine,

The lies you hear might hide the truth,

might bring you to your knees and cry.

In your darkest day, longest night

where the sadness becomes despair,

one looks to find a source of light.

Remember words, find comfort there.

Make the most of your coming days,

forget the then and be in now.

Through highs and lows, you find your way.

Learn and grow, you live and let go.