Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - News, Features, Opinions...


He Said, She Said, Bird Said, Bee Said
A Springtime Monthly Grind Review

By Sharon Lint-Allen


April 20, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - The April Monthly Grind was held this past Saturday night at the Saxman Tribal House. Gus Nollmeyer was host and expounded on the many differences between men and women. His commentary lent a definite "He Said, She Said" theme to the spring show. But there was one similarity between the two sexes that he didn't mention, perhaps because it was so apparent; both genders loved the entertainment.

The House Band started the show off right with a lively rendition of "Keep on the Sunnyside." This month the group included Cherry Rice, Tom LeCompte, Peggy Hovik, Dave Rubin, Christine Mander and Carlene Alred. Carlene is new to the group at the Monthly Grind and was outstanding on the violin. The song is probably best known as being recorded by the Carter Family some years ago and is a Campfire-Bluegrass-Spiritual sort of song with a strong beat. By the second verse pretty much everyone in the audience had found their personal Sunnyside and was singing along with the band.

Nollmeyer arrived on stage next. As an example of one difference between a male and a female, he demonstrated the way each removes a shirt. A woman, he said, crosses her arms somehow, grasps the ends of the garment and wriggles out of it as she pulls it up and over her head.

"It's elegant, it's sexy, it's beautiful. Men don't do that," he said. "Men grab the back of their collar and yank!"

The crowd nodded their agreement and Nollmeyer continued by giving another example of the way the sexes vary.

"A second way you know that men and women are different . . . we see boys playing with trucks and girls playing with dolls. Have you ever seen a boy playing with a doll?" he asked before qualifying his question with the joke, "except Bruce."

After a couple more stories about how men and women differ, Nollmeyer brought up Bruce again, saying, ". . . and the two most dreaded words from one male friend to another male friend would be "let's talk." He smiled at the response from the crowd and then added, "That's not okay. . . but women say it all the time. . . if my wife says it to me, that's fine, but if Bruce says it to me," he shook his head disapprovingly, adding, "even if he is holding his Barbie doll."

Just then, Bruce walked out with a Barbie doll, which he promptly sat on one of the speakers onstage. The crowd roared. After Bruce presented the Barbie as one featured in an international magazine and a bit of teasing back and forth between Bruce and Nollmeyer about the doll, Don Dawson was introduced as the First Act of the night.

This show was Dawson's second Monthly Grind and the crowd received him well. He took center stage with exuberance, carrying a 12-string guitar that glowed with polished varnish in variegated orange and wood brown colors.

He started off first with a Beatles' tune, "Rain" and then broke into a John Anderson song, "Seminole Wind." His musical style was a mix between Gordon Lightfoot and the Eagles and his stage presence brought to mind the charisma of prominent artists during the Sonny and Cher years.

Taking a darker turn on the next selection, Dawson sang "Living on the Edge" from Chris Hillman's "Like a Hurricane" album. His last choice was a Gene Clark classic entitled "She Don't Care About Time." The intricate fingering on this tune was a bit tricky at times, but always a professional, Dawson did a great job. Overall, his music was a good example of the type produced in the seventies: no flash, just great tunes. You could hear all the right influences: the Beatles, Byrds, Desert Rose Band, Steven Stills, and the Eagles. Not surprisingly, Dawson's music seemed to be particularly appreciated by those in the audience over forty.

As Dawson left the stage, Nollmeyer returned and asked the audience the question, "When do you know when a woman is about to say something really smart?"

Of course, he intended to give the answer back right away and took a deep breath to do so, but a member of the crowd interrupted with her own answer, shouting out, "She opens her mouth!"

With a look of feigned disgust, Nollmeyer said, "Ouch. Next time I won't pause." Then he continued, smiling, "She says, 'a man once told me . . .'"

After the boos died down, he recited a list he said had been compiled by men for women. "Rule number one:" he began, "learn to work the toilet seat, if it's up, put it down. Number two: if you ask questions you don't want an answer to, then expect an answer you don't want to hear. Number three: Get rid of your cat. Number four: Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be. Number five: Shopping is not a sport. Number six: Anything you wear is fine. Really. Number seven: Crying is Blackmail. If you must do this, do so, but don't expect us to like it. Number eight: Ask for what you want, subtle hints don't work. (to which one male member of the audience yelled out, "Amen!") Number nine: Foreign films are best left to foreigners. And Number ten: Christopher Columbus didn't need directions, neither do we."

But of course, Nollmeyer immediately gave proof that Number ten was not true when he asked for directions from Cherry Rice on how to pronounce the next act, the Little Pinay Dancers!

They shimmied up next, attractive and exciting in their bright orange and yellow hula skirts with matching tops and coordinated leis. Nollmeyer didn't have to point out the difference between men and women as the audience watched this act. As the girls came on, the men suddenly sat up straighter in their seats and then pretended they had done so in order to stretch. The women simply commented to one another at how cute the girls were in their outfits.

And they were cute. Ria Bautista, Ashley Aquila and Crystal Alba smiled dazzlingly as the Hawaii Five-O theme burst out in the Tribal House amid hoots and whistles from the crowd. With hips swinging left to right, they did an outstanding job of bringing the romance of the South Pacific to Ketchikan.

When the young girls had finished their act, the crowd erupted in applause and Nollmeyer returned to the stage with a bemused look on his face. He twisted around to look at Bruce, then shook his head and said, "Sorry, Bruce. I was just envisioning you in that outfit!"

To which Bruce replied, "Check me on Burns Night!"

After waiting for the crowd to finish laughing, Nollmeyer went on with his monologue. "Women have rules for men too," he continued. "Number one: CALL, Number two: Towels dry faster when hung up, Number three: Ordering for her is good. Telling her what she wants is bad, Number four. A grunt is seldom an acceptable answer to any question, Number five: Her cooking is excellent, Number six: Hat does not equal shower, after-shave does not equal soap, and warm does not equal clean, Number seven: You're sorry, Number eight: No means No. Yes means Yes. Silence could mean anything, Number nine: Remember Valentine's Day, and any darn cheesy 'anniversary' she wants you to remember, and Number ten: The rules are subject to change without prior notice."

Returning his attention to the lineup, Nollmeyer then announced it was time for The Choir. Beverly Ashworth was introduced first and did a beautiful song on the bells. Many members of the audience commented that it was amazing how she would pick up a bell from one place, ring it and then put it down in another, and yet still be able to know where it was the next time she needed it.

Following the bells, the other choir members joined Beverly on the stage. Together, Gail Alguire, Beverly and Tony Ashworth, Patty Finigan, Karen Miles, Chris Newbill, and Danita Nelson then began their first number "Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness" with Carol Stanton as their accompanist. The song is an old hymn that many in the crowd remembered from their youth.

For their next number, a tambourine appeared in hand as The Choir broke into the words of "Oh, Rock My Soul." The Choir did a good job on all the songs, however, it must be noted that throughout the performance, Tony Ashworth did an exceptional job in contributing the only male voice to The Choir. He was also right on the money with every note.

Then it was time for intermission. After the audience enjoyed some homemade desserts, coffee and good conversation, The House Band appeared again, this time singing "Two Dollar Bill." The lyrics, "Cloudy in the west and it looks like rain, looks like rain, boys, it looks like rain. Cloudy in the west and it looks like rain, I'm on my long journey home," seemed especially fitting for Ketchikan. The crowd stomped, clapped and sang along as the band finished up the song.

When Nollmeyer returned to the stage after The House Band had exited, he had a third list to recite.

"Ladies, I'll do a little translation for ya," he said, ". . . when he says, 'Well, it will take too long to explain . . .' it means, 'I have no idea how it works.' When he says, 'Hey, hon, take a break, you're working too hard,' it means, 'I can't hear the game over the vacuum.' When he says, 'Well, in my house we share the housework,' it means, 'I make the messes, she cleans them up.'"

Then he told the men he only had one interpretation for them. It seemed he had acquired it from some deep, dark undercover work he had accomplished. "When she says, 'It's not you, it's me!' it means, 'IT'S YOU!'" he
translated, laughing along with the crowd.

However, no translation was needed as John Hunt was introduced. Well-known in Ketchikan for his musical talent, he provided the highlight of the evening. "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters" was his first selection. He sang the Elton John tune in a sort of warm tone with a Simon and Garfunkle style and a wonderful expertise on the Autoharp. When his single silver pick flashed here and there over the taunt strings and he sang the words, "I thank the Lord that there's people out there like you," everyone in the crowd seemed to find someone they loved to look at.

Then he began his second song, "River," sometimes known as "You Rolling Old River." Even though he started off in the wrong key and had to begin again, the crowd was spellbound as he played the rest of the old folk song with the Autoharp held closely to his heart. His fingers moved gracefully over the strings as if he were using some kind of secret sign language that lured the magnificent notes from the instrument. It was a hauntingly beautiful melody done in a willowy way that held all in awe until the very last note.

Hunt's last song was an overtly political one, "I'm a Patriot (and the river opens for the righteous)." It was written by Little Steven (Van Dandt) and is recorded on the CD "Songs and Artists that inspired Fahrenheit 9/11." He was joined by backup singers Heidi Hays, Dave Rubin and Nelson Hays. The harmony was a little too hard to hear to begin with, but it gained in resonance as the song went on and concluded in a wonderful finish.

After Hunt, the host of the evening shocked all by walking on stage dressed in a long cream colored evening gown.

He was wearing it, of course, to emphasize the difference between how clothing looked different on the male and female body. But before he went into the specifics of his attire, he stopped to honor those men and women in the military.

"I wasn't going to do this now," he said, "but now is pretty good time after John sang that last song . . . tonight, we have with us some Army Reservists who are working over at Metlakatla on the highway . . . and so I would like to give them a round of applause . . . Welcome."

With his acknowledgement complete, he then turned his attention back to his outfit by asking Dave Lieben to join him on stage. When Lieben was good enough to climb up to sit on the chair Nollmeyer had placed in the center of the stage, Nollmeyer proceeded to do his best Marilyn Monroe imitation, singing, "Happy Birthday" breathlessly to Lieben as if Lieben were President Kennedy. Especially hilarious was the little twirl Nollmeyer did with one of his fingertips on the top of Lieben's head. It was also riotous when Nollmeyer ended the song by sitting on Lieben's lap.

Prizes donated by The Pizza Mill came next. They were for the three best desserts of the night: Cinnamon rolls, Brownies and Danish Apricot Bars.

After the last winner picked up their prize and left the stage area, Tom Guadagno was introduced. He started off by singing a song by Uncle Tupelo, "Still Be Around" from the album, "Still Feel Gone." Guadagno's voice was every bit as good as his playing. He had a Bob Dylan kind of sound that was easy and comforting to hear.

Guadagno's second selection was "Babylon Lyrics" by David Gray and it was an all-together very good performance. Most of the audience was swaying to the tempo. Along the wall, John Hunt could be seen sitting with his back leaning on the rough boards, eyes closed and head nodding in time to every nuance of Guadagno's performance.

When playing the intro to his third song which he did not name, Guadagno said, ". . . if you've ever been on a ride and you just don't have any control and there's not much you can do about it . . . or riding shotgun in a car and the person that's driving is just scaring you a little bit . . . and he should be pressing on the brake, but he's pressing on the gas, so you reach around with your feet upon the floor of the passenger's seat looking for that pedal that you think might stop the car when you want it to, but you don't find it . . . that's what this song is about . . . "

The tune had a good melody and Guadagno played it very well, though he did a better job with his last song, which he said he wrote himself. He admitted that he had not yet given the song a title, although he commented that it was a song that portrayed the feeling that "I'm sorry just doesn't cut it."

As he stepped off the stage, Nollmeyer stepped back on, this time wearing an outfit more appropriate for a male and introduced The Purple Hays with a flourish. Heidi Hays was playing piano, Nelson Hays with his ever-present cap played guitar and Austin Hays was on drums. After mentioning that the boys' grandmother was sitting in the front row, they started their set off with the song, "Your Mother Should Know." It was a bit unrehearsed and confused, but when Dave Rubin joined them for "Pretty Woman" they made up for it and brought down the house.

From there it only got better. John Hunt joined them on the French Horn for "Cruella Daville" and although Heidi's singing was still a little hard to hear, she had a good tone and improved through the number. Hunt was beyond awesome with his Satchmo singing. Hunt also brought hoots and howls from the crowd when he sported a hilarious disguise of Groucho glasses with an attached mustache and big nose for part of the song. Dave Rubin's intricate playing blew everyone away throughout the piece, as did Hunt's French Horn

You would have thought the show would end there on a high point, but there was time for one more number. This time, it was over-the-top. The Purple Hays added Patrick Dougherty and his Sax to the group while Rubin and Nelson sang. Rubin smoked the guitar on this one. Dougherty's talent belied his young age as he stoked the sax and Hunt slid it all home with his French Horn blazing.

As the crowd picked up chairs and helped stack them in the back, one audience member was heard to comment to a husband and wife who had attended the Monthly Grind together, "Wasn't this a perfect Springtime Monthly Grind?"

To which the husband smiled broadly. "It was," he said.

"I agree," she said. "And as always, over too soon."

The next Monthly Grind is scheduled for May 21st. It will be the last one of the season, so be sure to get your tickets early!


Sharon Lint-Allen is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Sharon at sharon(AT)
Sharon Lint-Allen ©2005

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions
Submit A Letter to the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska