Hello there. Hopefully wherever you are and however you are, you are at least OK.
Recently I was texting with someone I hadn’t caught up with for more than forty years. You think that makes me old, but it doesn’t. The truth is that I am pressing fifteen in my present emotional growth phase – but vigorously! Anyway for some reason I started to talk e-style about the person who does the covers of my books, Joleene Naylor. I’ve never met Jo, as I call her, though we’ve spoken on the internet once or twice. She’s from the part of the world where I was born, but not brought up – Iowa, and our tracks would have crossed maybe if she had actually been born when I was in some of the spots she cruises effortlessly today.
Jo spent what are described as “formative years” in the town where the Everly Brothers really got going. You know, “Bird dog” and other hits of the 50s and early 60s. That town, Shenandoah, Iowa, was also the town where one Charlie Haden was brought up, and Charlie, even more than the Everly duo, who found fame using “close harmony” singing, achieved something remarkable. Haden was a member of a performing country and western family, beginning his career at the age of two. He could really sing, apparently, but as a teenager an attack of polio ruined his voice. Fortunately, he had become interested in jazz and the bass, and he went on to become the most important bass player since the also remarkable Charles Mingus. There’s possibly something in being named Charles if you plan to be a fabulous bass virtuouso.
Haden was a founding member of a band led by reed and other instrument player Ornette Coleman, whose shall we say advanced notions of what constitutes music led players in his native Texas to walk off the stage rather than jam with him. Haden could jam with him. And did.
Sez Wiki: German musicologist Joachim-Ernst Berendt wrote that Haden’s “ability to create serendipitous harmonies by improvising melodic responses to Coleman’s free-form solos (rather than sticking to predetermined harmonies) was both radical and mesmerizing. His virtuosity lies…in an incredible ability to make the double bass ‘sound out’. Haden cultivated the instrument’s gravity as no one else in jazz. He is a master of simplicity which is one of the most difficult things to achieve.”
From country and western to free form jazz is pretty amazing, and Haden went further than that! Check him out! Anyway Jo went from Shenandoah to other places and now hangs out in a town in Iowa famous, apart from her, for an unsolved mass murder sometime early in the previous century.
When she isn’t doing art, Jo writes. Her chosen genre is the adult vampire novel, and I have read a number of these before publication. As she’s gone on, her writing has improved in every way, and the ones I like the best are the prequel Brothers of darkness and the final in the multivolume series focusing on the beautiful Katelina, her love affair with the vampire Jorick, and. . .that would be telling.
Since then she’s been doing spinoffs of the series under the title Tales of the executioners.
So. It’s rolling around to the time of year when people give other people things in hopes of forgiveness, or whatever, and I thought I’d just put in a plug for Jo’s books. Readers of this blog may already thirstily slurp down every exquisite drip off Jo’s e-pen, but some of you may not be in on the secret. There is heaps to choose from!
So again. Go on. Be adventurous. Give your best mate Brothers of darkness, or one of the others. Unlike my e-books you can order a hard copy and write in it! Write something really nice! That way it will be there, forever, after you’ve been turned and grow those little teeth and bite someone on the neck or – here’s another wee secret – somewhere else.
Joleene Naylor. Google her. Buy. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading.
*Dolly Parton wrote and originally recorded a song almost by this title, the spelling being different. Miley Cyrus has also done a version. It’s about how beautiful Jolene is and how the singer hopes against hope that she will not steal her man. Given that the man in question is muttering Jolene’s name in his sleep, the prospects are not all that great.