A Benefit to Being Poor: Playing Music that Almost No One Else is Playing, and Sounding Like No One Else is Sounding. Here’s Why…

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 8:55 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: One factor in the sound of many of the deeply rural musicians in America is that they are not in areas where they can get a clean radio signal, internet access is spotty at best, and they just don’t listen to new music.

For Doc and his friends and neighbors, hi speed internet is not even available. The more affluent ones have dial up, which means that YouTube and other media are basically non accessible.

What this means is that the musicians and singers who live in these outlying areas are playing only the songs they remember from their childhoods or ones they learned by hearing other musicians play them live. It keeps them from even knowing how the original recordings sounded.

Another factor is that they could not take real music lessons, so they just picked up the instruments and figured out how to play. Their instruments tend to be old and cheap, or home made. While the musicians from the middle class have nice instruments and equipment, the rural ones have the cheapest and the most improvised of equipment, and it gives them a unique sound. That is again, a disadvantage on one hand, and an advantage on the other.

Blues Festival 2Doc: Yeah, Tondy, you’re right about that. We cain’t generally pick up the radio out here. And when we do, we ain’t like what they’s playin.’ 

We don’t sound like any other bands and don’t play what any of ‘em is playin’ most of the time. That’s good for them and also good for us.

Then, we got cheap equipment and home made equipment which is more what the original players and singer used. What we play is poor people music, which is what all the originals was: poor.

We mostly play what we grew up with. Music we heard our daddies and mama’s playin’ and singin’. It’s old songs, but good ones, and for us they have all the memories of when mama and daddy was young. We like that music better.

And, no, we ain’t able to go into town to take music lessons for a half day’s wages for a half hour lesson. That is for office boys and their spoilt teenage kids. It takes us 45 minutes to just get to La Plata. That’s a lot of gas. Then a half hour lesson and then 45 minutes back. Plus they want to stand around and talk a little bit, which is ok, but it adds to the time away. 

And then they want you to learn how to read charts and notes while you’re playin’! We aint up to that! It is all I can do to play that dang thing, let alone be lookin’ a a book while doin’ it, and then tryin’ to sing. That ain’t happenin’.

We just stick to what we know. But that ain’t a bad thing. When we go out and play and there is other bands, we ain’t doin’ the songs that they do, so that makes them like us more.Blues Festival 1
A lot of places get us to play for that reason. Ain’t too many people playin’ and singin’ what we do. We ain’t do NOTHIN’ newer than maybe 1958. And we ain’t doin’ any of the rock and roll hits from back then. 

A lot of people like what we play, but can’t find nobody to play it. Another thing is we ain’t human jukeboxes. We ain’t heard the original records probally in 20 years, and Marilyn ain’t never heard ‘em. So we ain’t hittin’ anything like a note for note copy of the original. Some people like what they call our arrangements. We ain’t got arrangements – that’s just how we remember them, and sometimes we get it wrong.

We all are church folks – and we go to churches where the people really get into it. We jump around in church, Tondy! You been there. Well, when we do it on stage, people think it is good showmanship, but it is just how we do. 

Playin’ out on the streets is somethin’ a lot of musicians ain’t done, and that gives us a different kind of edge. SO I guess bein’ poor can help you if you’re into playin’ music.

But it all works out, and it makes us sound like we got an original sound, and we ain’t copyin’ nobody. Hey, even if we did, we couldn’t sound like nobody else! It’s hard enough for us to sound like us! 

Having a girl in the band helps… a lot. Get a Girl in Your Band.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:53 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: One thing that it doesn’t take long to find out is that it takes a fair bit of business sense to be able to live cheaply and survive well on very little money. That is true in the UK where I live as well as everyplace I have lived or traveled to in my life.

It’s no different in the States. There are MANY, many poor and needy people there. Some are newly poor, having lost their jobs because of downsizing, being laid of or the business where they worked closed down, due to the worldwide bad economy.

Then there are those who have been poor all of their lives. For them, even though they are used to poverty, it is tougher when there is less money floating around amongst the middle class. So they have to hustle more, and find more ways to maximize their meager resources.

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, it’s definitely tougher out there. Use to be, we could make enough money by hustling a few odd jobs, doin’ a little body work and playin’ in the streets for tips. But now we gotta step it up a notch. We’re havin’ to hustle more gigs so we can keep the lights on.

One thing that helps is having Marilyn in the band. Heck, we didn’t use to have to have a band! Money was flowin’ enough I could make it on my own. Now we gotta have a band! Imagine that!
It takes a handful of us to get decent gigs. Havin’ Marilyn is a big help, too.

Tondeleo: Why exactly is that, Doc?

Doc: Well, first off, she’s easier to look at than the rest of us. Ain’t nobody want to LOOK at a bunch of old guys playin’ music! They hear us and want to LISTEN, but they ain’t wanna look! But with Marilyn, bein’ a girl and all that, they wanna look. And if they look, they will stay an’ listen.

Another thing is it makes us look not so rough. We are not a pretty bunch of guys. We ain’t those little skinny boys with pretty hair and nice shiny instruments. We is all workin’ men and none of us is pretty and none of our instruments is shiny and pretty. We gotta have SOMETHIN’ that looks good!

And then there is this, Tondy. It means we can sing more songs. Like, I can sing “Stand By Your Man,” but it’s kinda creepy if you think about it. Well, not really, cause the words ain’t about ME standin’ by my man, it is just about a woman needs to stand by her man, but you get the idea. When MARILYN sings “Stand By Your Man,” it’s a different story. She sings it like she means it, and she belts it out way prettier than I do.
Same with “Your Squaw is on the Warpath.” That’s a old Loretta Lynn song about her husband cheatin’ on her an’ then comin’ home drunk and wantin’ more of what he’s already had. Well, I ain’t singin’ THAT one! But Marilyn can. They’s a lot of songs what is better with a girl singin’ them. She does “Your Cheatin’ Heart” better.And a lot of the Patsy Cline songs better, like “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

It works better for back up singin’ as well to have a girl voice in there. An’ Marilyn plays harp and flute what she learnt at school band and a little bass guitar if we need it. Mostly when I am playin’ bottleneck.

Havin’ it not be all white people is good, too. That adds a little flavor to it. We always been a mixed band, and that helps a lot. We all grew up poor and moving around from place to place, and we all learnt from blacks and whites when we was growin’ up. Now when it all comes together, it is better. We always had a black drummer. We got Welch Simmons from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. We also got K.I. who comes from up to Pittsburgh. He pays drums, sax and is good on bass, too.

On lead guitar we got Buttermilk Wade who looks like a black man but is Asiatic. Least he tells people that. You can ask him if he is really from the far east, and he will tell you his people is from Eastern North Carolina, and if you go any further east than that, you will drop off in the ocean, so what can I say?

Back to havin’ a girl, it just adds somethin’ jse_P1170312good to the group that ain’t there when it’s just the men. The ladies don’t think we’re as scary. They stand around more and listen, and the men stand around more, too. 

The old ladies like her and I think they kind of feel sorry for her with all these old men, so they take her under their wings. They sing along more when she is singin’. That makes it a better show, too. Helps to have a girl. If you ever get a band, Tondy, get a girl in it. Helps a lot.

Doc’s 51 Chevy Panel Truck Gets to Park by the Nice Cars at the Mini Car Show

Monday, August 20, 2012 11:50 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: Doc was so very excited that at the mini car show at the party he and the band played at last weekend, no one made fun of his car. He is self conscious about the old paint and faded lettering on it. It looks fine when he is at home and among other rural people, but when he takes it to the suburbs or the city, people point at it, and sometimes they take pictures of it, and he is not certain what to do.jse_P1170243
Doc: Tondy, those people at that party was first class. Like I told you, I was gonna park my poor old truck back in the back after we got it unloaded, but the man whose house it was came out and told me I could park it right out there in the same line as the nice cars and hot rods that was bein’ shown off there.

I could not believe it! There was all kinds of cars that you could tell was big money. All of ‘em was well built, and looked good inside an’ out. Shiny rims, good chrome, and motors that you could eat off of, if they didn’t mind you getting’ a little ketchup or barbecue sauce on ‘em. But my Chevy Panel truck looks like somebody already got ketchup and barbecue sauce on it. Well, somebody DID get ketchup and barbecue sauce on it.

They was a silver ‘53 Studebaker, and a couple ‘48 Chevys what sat right on the ground. A ‘36 or ‘37 Chevy, a 55 or ‘56 Plymouth, a 32 Ford… I can’t remember them all. But they was all beautiful.And had good paint on ‘em too!

jse_P1170228And then there was my poor old Chevy panel truck! It was dirty and dusty, and the motor ain’t never been cleaned and it ain’t never been waxed, neither! 

But they let me sit it out there just the same! And the other guys what had nice cars came over and talked to me about it, just like I was their equal!

One guy even could tell I need a new radiator! He could tell just by lookin’! That radiator what is in it is from about 1955, and is getting’ green on it here and there. That’s how he said he could tell. He said I need a ‘luminum one and it would run more than $500! Well, guess who AIN’T gonna be able to get a new ‘luminum radiator? I’ll give you one guess, and his name is none other than Doc Stevens!

Sometimes Home Made Guitars and Old Equipment are the Best Ticket for Respect.

11:34 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: It has been a few months since I have been able to post a blog for Doc. I have been busy with work and travel. 

Last week, I was able to get a few days in the Washington, DC area, and visited Doc and Marilyn. As you may know, Marilyn got married last September to David, and they moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Fortunately, she was visiting Doc when I was there for a few days.

Doc: Tondy, we just played a few jobs where there was people with a lot of money and nice cars and they was real nice to us. 

One was a lady’s 80th birthday party. Her grown kids threw it for her. They had a car show at it and everything. When we pulled up in my old Chevy panel truck, I saw all those nice cars with pretty paint and shiny rims and chromed out motors and thought, “Uh oh. They are gonna make me park out in the back!”

But once we got all the ‘quipment outta the back, the guy whose house it was asked me to park my old truck right out there with all those nice hot rods! I was really surprised, cause this truck ain’t never been waxed and only washed maybe twice in the last couple of years. But he let me pull it right out there in the line with the nice cars! And people took pictures of it, just like they did the other cars!

jse_P1170285Then when we was settin’ up, I found out there was a good handful of guitar players and musicians there, too! All I had brung with me was the homemade guitars. I don’t know why. I brung my two favorites, which I made a long time ago, and two smaller ones what I keep in the truck. You need smaller guitars when you’re playing out on the streets, or travelin’. You ain’t got room for full size ones. 

It’s cheapest just to make ‘em yourself outta old parts and boxes. I keep the one what is made from a tackle box in regular tuning and the other little one in a open tuning for slide guitar and blues. The lady who lived there took pictures and sent them to us in a e-letter. 

I figured those guys with all that money was gonna laugh us off the property when they saw those old home made guitars what was made outta trash. But NO! They was real nice about it. People was even takin’ pictures of ‘em. That made me feel real good.
jse_P1170304We had Marilyn down for the weekend, and Buttermilk Wade was on the lead guitar, and Lump was on the harp and K.I. on the drums. That is pretty much our line up these days. We are lucky to have a good handful of musicians to pick from and who can be available. 

The people there was real nice and it was a good party and we all ate a lot of food. They had a little bit of everything there. Nobody got too drunk, and there was no fightin’ which is always a mark of a classy party.

But we was all amazed that people kept asking about those guitars and takin’ pictures! Well, I know this: If we’d had nice guitars and good equipment, and nice clothes, ain’t nobobdy woulda been takin’ pictures!

Oh yeah – the other thing is that when they see those crappy looking guitars and old amps, they figure we’re gonna sound like garbage. So when we don’t sound like garbage, they all are surprised and then they think we are good. Those guitars sound GOOD though, Tondy, they was just cheap to make, that’s all.

End of the World in 2012? Part Two: Basic Survival

Monday, April 16, 2012 5:51 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
In my last post, I was attempting to get Doc and Marilyn and Big Dave to discuss the end of the world, the Mayan calendar and survival. You can read how far we didn‘t get in that attempt. This segment is from a few minutes later in that same conversation, such as it was. 

I was trying to explain to Doc, Marilyn and Big Dave how unsettling it will be, according to all the scare mongers, when the next disaster strikes. I didn’t get too far. 

Tondeleo: OK, Doc, I understand that you don’t want to buy the Mayan calendar. And, like I said, there really isn’t a Mayan calendar for you or anyone else to buy. It just was like a prediction or something… but the point is that there are a lot of people saying that people ought to be ready for a disaster or for a zombie invasion…

Doc: Aint no ZOMBIES gonna invade nobody, Tondy! Don’t get your panties in a bunch…

Marilyn: I ain’t scared of zombies, Tondy! I have anointing oil that I got at the church and I would pour it on them and rebuke them in the name of Jesus! A zombie ain’t nothin’ but a demon livin’ in a corpse. I’d cast that demon out of that zombie and command it go to back to hell and the zombie would just be a dead person again…

Doc: Yeah, one more thing for me to bury around here.

Tondeleo: Well, what about being’ PREPARED, Doc? I read you about the “37 Foods You Must Have in a Disaster.” What do you think about that?

Doc: Well, Tondy, it’s a scam pure an’ simple. There ain’t no secret foods. That guy ain’t got no special secrets. OK: you gotta have water. We got a well, so we’re ok. Then you need to have things you can store. But we live like that anyway. You been out here in the winter. When it snows, ain’t no snowplows comin’ down here. We can’t get to the store.

We have sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, turnips and such down in the root cellar. They keep as long as you need ‘em. Why it’s called a root cellar.

Then we got salt cured ham and deer jerky. We even got some catfish jerky that Big Dave makes. We’re good for meat. We do that every winter and been doin’ that since I was a boy.

Plus, we got guns and ammo and plenty of deer, rabbits, squirrels and possums. We got fresh meat year round – all we have to go is take a walk in the woods.

When we ain’t got no electricity, we play the acoustic guitars… and Marilyn don’t need no electric to play her harp.

We got blankets and a woodstove, and kerosene lamps. That ain’t no disaster Tondy! It’s how all us live out here! Poor people been livin’ like that since the world began!

And you city boys think it’s the end of the world if you cain’t get your Starbucks and the interweb! You better man up, Tondy!

Big Dave: Well, if it IS the end of the world, you’re not gonna make it anyway. You’ll be dead. The world ended, remember?

Marilyn: The Bible says all this stuff is gonna happen in the last days. Tondy, what you need is the Holy Ghost. Then you wouldn’t be scared all the time. Do you want me to cast that spirit of fear off of you? I can do it if you want…

Tondy: No thank you Marilyn. I’ll be all right. I have some freeze dried food and other supplies coming from Amazon. 

End of the World in May 2012? Part One–The Mayans

Saturday, April 14, 2012 11:51 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: It’s been several weeks since I’ve been able to post. Work has been interfering with my life. Currently I am back in America for at least a fortnight, and I hope to be able to record some interesting interviews with Doc and Marilyn and their friends.

I printed out some of the emails I’ve received from Americans trying to profit from the general fear that is in the world. Many of them are transparently selling fear, and then selling products that should alleviate those fears.

With many people deciding that the world will come to an end in May of this year, because the Mayans said it would, the intensity of the emails and product sales for survival is in quite a flurry.
I figured this would be a good topic to talk with Doc and Marilyn about. It turned out to be pretty much what I expected, with them interjecting their thoughts and questions every few seconds, and derailing any train of thought before it even got going.

Here we go:

Tondeleo: Doc, now that I’ve read to you all these emails about the world coming to an end in May, which is only a few weeks away, what do you think?

Doc: Who said it was coming to an end next month, Tondy? What was those peoples’ names?

Tondeleo: The Mayans. They said so. They had it on their calendar that the end of the world was coming in May 2012.

Marilyn: Well WHO is the Mayans? I ain’t never heard of them…

Tondeleo: The Mayans were a group of people who lived in Central America…

Doc: Ohio?

Tondeleo: No, Central America is down south of Mexico…

Doc: South of Mexico… and they call it central America? Ohio and Indiana and Detroit is central America, Tondy.

Tondeleo: OK, well, the Mayans lived there a long time ago, like in 2500 B.C. They were brilliant and had a highly developed civilisation. They…Big Dave 3

Big Dave: I know who those people were. Buncha white trash. Learned about ‘em in eighth grade, Tondy.

Those S.O.B.’s would play football usin’ the head of someone they killed.Used it for a football!

They sacrificed virgins to their gods. That ain’t civilised. You’re s’posed to protect virgins, not kill ‘em.

Doc: You can’t kill virgins! They’re a dangered species! Other n’ Marilyn and some of the girls down at the church, I ain’t even SEEN a virgin in what… maybe ten years!

Marilyn: Tondy, those people killed VIRGINS??? That ain’t right!

Doc: Well, that’s it. I ain’t buyin’ it.

Tondeleo: You’re not buying WHAT, Doc?

Doc: Their calendar. I ain’t buyin’ their calendar. What’s it got, only five pages? January, February, March… uhh, April, then May. And that’s it? I ain’t buyin’ it. I got plans for the Summer. We got a lot of gigs this Summer.

Big Dave: Yeah, I don’t want their calendar either, Tondy.

Tondeleo: But, it isn’t like that… not at all…

Marilyn: Tondy, you ought to buy Doc’s calendar. He’s got the whole year on his, and there are a lot of gigs we’re playin’, and they’re all marked on his calendar…

Doc: I ain’t sellin’ my calendar, Marilyn. Then we’d miss all our gigs.

Big Dave: Yeah, forget the Mayans. The Mexicans killed ‘em all. They had it wrong, anyway, Tondy.

Tondeleo: You can’t know that, Big Dave.

Doc: Well, I can. The end of the world already came for them folks, and they wasn’t expectin’ it! And now they’re all dead and in hell. Hmph! …Playin’ football with a man’s head. Killin’ virgins… That’s a bunch of sinner mess, right there. Nothin’ but sinner mess. 

Doc Stevens on Making Your Guitar Strings Last Longer… and getting the sound of the old blues and roots musicians.

Monday, March 12, 2012 9:05 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: One thing that I have learnt about the rural Americans that I have gotten acquainted with is that their poverty and their distance from shops makes them very resourceful.

This is not an American trait per se, but it is a trait of people without resources the world over. A difference in America is that the rural Americans have access to the castoff items that are thrown away by others and sometimes those things are in fact worth repairing or using the bits from to make other things.

In the posts about the home made guitars that Doc has, you can read about how he made his own guitars from cast off bits from other guitars. He took them and put them together and assembled them on a plank, or in a box, and then set them thing up as a guitars.They are not pretty and definitely look home made, but they make noise and get the job done.

Buying guitar strings is another area that is a struggle for many rural Americans. Many of them live an hour or more from a music store, so there is the economic factor of being able to afford transport, along with the price of the strings. As a result, they have to learn to make their guitar strings last longer.

I have seen Doc take the strings off of his guitars and boil them, to get the dirt out of them, and then watch him run a little olive oil on them as he runs them between his fingers before restringing the guitar. He says this makes them play a little better and keeps  the rust off.

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, I always dip my finger and thumb in olive oil and then pull the strings between them before putting them back on. Then I wipe them off on a rag. Treating the strings makes them last a lot longer and makes the strings play easier. 

People make all sorts of fuss about the old mountain musicians and old blues musicians, and they try to get that same kind of sound that they hear on them old records. 

Well, first of all you are listenin’ to the music of POOR people. They ain’t had no fancy ‘quipment. They had old cheap guitars and cheap strings that was years old! They had to make things last. That old sound was just what they sounded like. It wasn't special or nothing. If you take a cheap guitar and a cheap amp, and then take care of your strings, your guitar will sound like the ones on the old records!

These new guys can go out an’ pay a thousand dollars for a guitar and another thousand for a amp and put new stings on his guitar every month and then wonder why he don’t sound like the poor people whose music he likes! Well it ain’t gonna happen on a rich man’s guitar and amp! What's he do then? He spends more money buyin' pedals to get that old sound, and maybe a new amp, so he can get that old style tone he is hungry for. Back when them records was made, here's what tone choices you had: Treble, bass and middle. You turned the knobs on your amp til it sounded right, and then you turned the knobs on your guitar til it sounded right. That's all them guys knew!

Another thing to do to make your strings last is this: Instead of just pushing the strings through the hole in the tuning peg, you want to first wrap the string AROUND the tuning peg four or five times, and then push it through the hole and tighten it up.

You end up with the peg havin’ four or five turns of the string, then the part where the string goes through the hole in the peg, and then the rest of the turns where it is being tightened as you tune it. It makes your strings last at least twice as long.

It helps your guitar to stay in tune longer, and keeps the strings from breakin’ so easy. Strings is ‘spensive an’ if you live out here in the country, it takes you half a day to run up to Waldorf an’ get ‘em and then get home. Plus the gas costs more than the strings. We got to make our strings last longer out here.

Doc Stevens on Giving to the Rich… and the TV Preachers

Sunday, February 26, 2012 11:00 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: During the course of our discussion on how the rich people expect the poor to support them – and how for some reason many poor feel compelled to defend the rich, the topic turned to the TV preachers. I asked Doc if he ever sent money to the TV preachers. I know he and Marilyn and some of their friends go to church. I have never seen them watching any TV preachers, but I wondered if they sent money to them. Many of the American TV preachers promise that God will make you wealthy if you send them money. And many of the poorest of people do send them money. I have read that the richest ministries in America are supported primarily by the poor and the elderly. People who can least afford it. That is where this conversation begins.

“So, Doc, why is it that poor people feel compelled to send money to these obviously rich TV preachers? These TV preachers, both men and women boast about their wealth and their luxury cars, and their mansions and private jet planes. Yet, these things and that lifestyle came from the gifts of their donors, many of whom are poor and elderly. How is it that people give to them? I don’t get it.”

imageDoc: You’re right. You’re right, Tondy. But you gotta understand this. You ain’t never been poor. I ain’t never been nothing but poor.

When you’re poor, you know you can’t do nothing to ever have much money. Ain’t nobody want to pay a poor person more than minimum wage. They know you’re hurtin’ and they know you’ll take it. And they know that ain’t nobody else gonna pay you more than that, so you GOTTA take it.
So all you got left is two things.Either play the numbers [buy lottery tickets] or give to the TV preachers and hope that they is tellin’ the truth, that God’ll give you a hundredfold return. That means if I send them ten dollars, somehow God will let me get a hold of… of… of… uh.. ummm…

Doc reaches for a pencil and an envelope to add it up… 10 plus 10 plus 10 plus 10. I don’t want to wait for him to add it a hundred times.

Tondeleo: A hundredfold means you would get a hundred times ten dollars, Doc. That would be a thousand dollars for every ten dollars you send in.

Doc: Yeah, I was gettin' there. The TV preacher tell you the truth in one part. That is that if you plant a seed into good soil, it will grow and multiply. That is true, anyone knows that. If I plant a tomato seed and it grows, it will produce more than a hundred seeds from the tomatoes what grows on the plant. Maybe a thousand seeds. No argument there. That is the truth and you don’t even need to believe the Bible to know that.

But then they tell you that THEY is the good soil! That is like a rat tellin’ you if you plant your corn in good soil you will be eatin’ corn on the cob an’ then have a lot of seed left to plant more corn, which is true, but then that rat tells you that HE is the good soil! 

If you give your corn to the rat, Tondy, it ain’t gonna multiply! You ain’t gonna have corn on the cob! All you gonna have is rat turds.That rat so’t want you to plant your seed in good soil, he wants you to plant it in him so he can eat it! If you give your seed to the rat, you ain’t getting’ nothin’ back but turds.

God don’t nowhere in the Bible tell you to give your money to rich folks. He says to give your money to poor folks and needy folks. But not all needy folks is good soil neither. He ain’t tell you to give your money to crackheads and drug dealers an’ folks that is doin’ wrong or folks what hates God.

He says to give to the poor folks what you know. An’ widows an’ orphans – what is kids who ain’t got they parent lookin’ out for ‘em. Their parent may be alive but maybe their daddy is in jail and they mama is a crack head. Somebody got to look out for those kids.

He tells you to look out for the immigrants too, Tondy. He says help them. He don’t tell you nowhere to hate the immigrants.  

My preacher down at the church says if you give to help a person who is needy and can’t help themselves, the Lord will bless you for it. The good book says that. He says that the person what gives to the poor lends to the Lord and the Lord will repay you. You got to give to poor folks and help out those what needs helping. I marked it in my Bible right here so I could find it again. Got a piece of paper stuck in it. 

[Reading slowly and deliberately] “He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the LORD; and that which he has given the Lord will pay him back.” That is real clear. The good Lord wants us to give to the poor, not to the rich. And that is when God will bless you for helpin’ someone. When you give to the poor.

Tondeleo: And where is that in the Bible, Doc?

Doc: Let me find it again… that’s Proverbs chapter 19 and verse 17.
But God don’t bless you for givin’ to the rich. He said and I got it marked in my Bible… it’s right here. It is Proverbs chapter 22 and verse16. “He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall certainly come to poverty.”
Now guess who that first part is about? It is about the rich people, including those rich preachers who take money from the poor so they can get richer. Those TV preachers tell the poor people that they will get a hundredfold return if the poor people send money to them.
But God says if you give to rich people, whether it is rich preachers or rich politicians, you’re definitely gonna stay poor.
You can’t be on TV every day unless you’re rich. It costs millions! And you can’t get to be a politician on any kind of level unless you’re rich. All them people runnin’ for President is multi-millionaires. Every one of them. And God says if you give them money, you’ll end up goin’ broke. 

My mama use to send 10 dollars a month to her favorite tv preacher for more than 30 years. And she ain’t never got not even a one fold return, let alone no hundredfold return. That’s because she was givin’ to the rich. You ain’t supposed to give to the rich. You’re supposed to give to the poor. That’s what Jesus said. She shoulda been givin’ that money to help ohter folks that was havin’ money problems. 

These TV preachers mostly is livin’ like kings on the money what poor folks send in. They is livin’ in mansions and flyin’ around in their jet airplanes. They ain’t givin’ money, they are spendin’ money on themselves. When is the last time you heard of a rich preacher or politician givin’ to the poor? I mean giving their own money to help the poor? It ain’t happenin’ Tondy.
If you’re givin’ to them, you’re not plantin’ your seed in good soil, you’re feedin’ a rat or a pig. If you feed your seed to a pig, you don’t get a return. Well, what you DO get ain’t nothin’ you want to eat. 

An’ Jesus said don’t cast your pearls before swine. That means don’t give your money to pigs. He said they will turn on you trample you. After you helped them, they will not help you, and you will end up worse than if you gave them nothing. 

If you read that Bible, it’ll keep you from sendin’ the money to the rich an’ it will get you to helpin’ the poor, no matter where they come from. That’s what me an’ Marilyn tries to do. Help people.

Doc Stevens on the Occupy Movement, Taxing the Rich and Hating Immigrants

Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:36 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: Whilst talking with Doc about the Occupy movement and the world’s economy, we got on the topic of the poor and how they for some reason feel compelled to support the rich, and those who are making their millions off of poor people.

I was surprised at some of Doc’s opinions on this. Even after knowing him for years I tend to think of him and his friends as socially naïve and uninformed. And, even though they do tend to be uninformed and naïve in some things, they still are able to come up with some basic wisdom and clear thinking on a lot of the current issues.

Here are some excerpts from one of our conversations about this:

Doc: OK, Tondy, here is what don’t make sense first of all. You got these rich politicians and the rich bankers and heads of the big companies who is all billionaires, an’ they also own the newspapers and TV and radio. They ain’t want to be taxed like the rest of us. So they tell us how we are communists if we ain’t want to pay more taxes than them. 

Well, guess what? I ain’t no communist. But if I gotta pay 30% taxes on what little money I make, and then try to live on the rest, why shouldn’t  a billionaire pay the same thing and live on the rest? This is America where we is all supposed to be equal. Aint supposed to be nobody better than the rest.

And then you got all these old people an’ poor people what believes everything these billionaire vultures tells ‘em and they start sayin’ the same thing! That s jacked up, Tondy! Jacked up.
Like a hound dog goin’ around supportin’ blood ticks. Even my dog, Dale Junior will pull off a tick if he can. He is smarter than a lot of these people what is livin’ on social security and sayin’ we need to give the billionaires a tax break.

Them billionaires and their litle brothers the millionaires has been blessed. More blessed than we’ll ever be. They ought to count it as part of their thanks to the good Lord what blessed them to give to the poor and the old folks. I mean ain’t that why the Lord blesses a person for? So that person can help those in need? God ain’t blessed no one so they can hoard it for themselves. I ain’t that smart, but I can read the Bible.

I know that the Lord’ll bless them even more if they help the poor folks and the immigrants. But these folks hate immigrants! That ain’t right neither, Tondy. The Lord tells you to look out for the strangers and the aliens – not space aliens from outer space, but aliens and strangers is what they was called in Bible days. The Lord says be good to them an’ he will bless you. 

But these folks says you should hate the aliens and immigrants an’ send them back where they came from. Well guess what? Most of these folks what is sayin’ it ain’t exactly American Indians! They all  came from immigrants themselves! Maybe they need to go back to where they came from too! 

What is it all about? I can tell you. It is about the love of money and greed, like the Lord said. He said it was really bad when you love money more than you love people.

Doc Stevens on Fear, Terrorism and Politics

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:50 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: You know from my earlier postings that I have been getting Doc and whoever is visiting him to watch the national news and then to comment on it. I like to hear their simple insights about a world where they are outsiders. Doc has never voted, and I am not certain that he has a Social Security card. I do believe he has a drivers’ license, though.

We were discussing fear, politics and terrorism the other night while he was out working in his garage. I recorded some of the conversation. Here are excerpts.

Doc: Tondy, I hear a lot about this terrorism. I know thatBodyshop2 on 9-11 a long time ago, them guys crashed the jets into the Pentagon up there in DC and into a field in Pennsylvania somewhere, and into those buildings in New York. That was wrong. 

I know there is a lot of people around the world what hates America, too. But it ain’t for what the newspaper says it is for. They say that people hate us because we are free, and our women go to school, and we have a good life here in America. But I ain’t fallin’ for that one. 

Canada is free, and they got women in college, and have a good life. So does a lot of countries over there where you come from, Tondy. But not all those countries is goin’ over to where those terrorists live and bombin’ the mess out of them.

Mostly, over there, they ain’t much threat to us over here, except for somethin’ we musta done to them an’ their people what made them madder than I don’t know what. You can’t live your life scared of everyone and hatin’ everyone.  

And ain’t none of their governments wantin’ to invade America. We got the biggest army and marines and air force and navy in the world, and then even if they COULD get here, most of us is personally armed and would take them out one by one!  

If we’d bring our soldiers and ships and planes back to America, we could still pay all our soldiers and what not, but pay ‘em to work here and protect us right here. They could fix the roads and make hospitals or whatever we needed, instead of buildin’ those bases over there in them other countries. I think it’d be cheaper and better. 

I heard people on the TV say that hatin’ them people is bein’ a good American. I ain’t hatin’ nobody. Now if someone tries to break into my bungalow, and I am inside, I will send him to meet his Maker. But I ain’t gonna go down the road and blow somebody away because he MIGHT try to break in one day! That is crazy. America ain’t supposed to be crazy.

All these politicians go on about how religious they are. THEN THEThen they want to go hatin’ on gays an’ Mexicans and towelheads and poor people. Then, because of that, the other side starts hatin’ on religious people! It’s all about hate, Tondy! 

When I was a boy, we was supposed to hate the communists. It was the American thing to do. Once they went away, now we gotta hate towelheads. Well, what if I ain’t WANT to hate towelheads? What if they is being taught to hate me, and they don’t even know me? See what I mean?

No, I ain’t fallin’ for it. And I wish no one else fell for it. Then all the people could get along and work to make this a better place to live. That’s what America started off as, and that is what we need to learn how to do again.

I love America and I love the people here, even the ones that is greedy and hateful. They ain’t got the power over me to make me hate ‘em and I ain’t gonna give it to them. I am American and I believe everybody ought to have a chance to live they life free and to be left alone by the government. But we gotta pay our taxes to help the ones what cain’t work and to keep the roads fixed up.

Republicans, Democrats, The Occupy Movement–According to Doc Stevens

Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:06 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: I have been experimenting with Doc and his friends by exposing them to the American national news and then listening to their opinions of what I “made” them watch. 

They would not watch the news on their own initiative, and would rather be playing music or cards, or working in the garage. But, during this visit to the US, I have been staying at Doc’s and having him and whomever else is visiting to watch the news with me, and then we talk about it. 

I have been surprised at some of their insights and opinions. Part of it is because they are outsiders and have been outsiders all of their lives. They see themselves as separate from the “system” and they want no part of the system at all. They just want to live their lives and be left alone. 

However, after having them watch CNN, Fox, BBC, Russia Today and Al Jazeera news on the telly for the  last month, I am amazed at their comprehension. I will try to capture some of it for you.

Doc: OK, Tondy, I can tell you this much. Aint neither the Democrats or the Republicans care that much about America and the people what lives here. They care about America as a place for them to get rich. I mean they don’t want it to collapse ‘cause then where would they go where they could take advantage of so many people so easy, and make so much money.

They care more about hatin’ the other side. The other side is competin’ for the votes and the chance to make big money, so they hate the other side. At least when they is on TV they hate the other side. I think they is all cut out of the same piece of cloth an’ down deep they all have they own fellowship – which is the fellowship of power an’ money.

They ain’t pullin’ together to make this a better place to live. If one of ‘em has a good idea, the other ones is against it, just because of who’s idea it is.

Listen, it don’t matter WHO has an idea, if it is a good one, it’s a good one and we need to do it for the good of our country. And if it’s a bad one, then it is bad no matter who came up with it.

Also, both of them makes the other ones out to be the boogeyman. They try to scare you in how this country would be it you voted for the other guy. Ain’t none of them tellin’ the real truth. It ain’t like all the good people is one side and all the bad people are the other side. That’s just stupid. You can be an American and have a different opinion than someone else.

But both sides tryin’ to work the American people. And they both is actin’ – puttin’ on a show. They pretend that they are gonna be different from the other guy, because he is so bad. But really, they is all the same. They are lookin’ out for themselves and whoever it is that is given them money for all that travellin’ and advertisin’. It’s about greed, Tondy. You can’t run for President in this country without bein’ a millionaire. Even I know that. Greed ain’t a good thing in nobody. Especially not in someone who is able to spend all the peoples’ money what is paid in taxes.

Both sides try to get us scared, And that ain’t right. I ain’t believe in bein’ scared as a good way to think straight. It’s a good way to NOT think straight. And they know it, Tondy, and they USE that to get people to pick someone who is not right and vote for him. Bein’ scared ain’t nothin’ but fear, an’ my preacher says fear is not of God. God ain’t gonna make you scared, so when a man tries to make you scared, he ain’t of God, I don’t care what side he’s on.

These people try to divide the American people. We have a name, the United States, and that means that we are to pull together. Poor people know that. We pull together so we can eat, so we can keep the lights on and so we can keep that tags on the car and all that. But these guys try to make us hate each other and not trusts each other. That ain’t right in nobody’s mind. The good book says that if people can agree an’ work together ain’t nothin’ impossible. TO me, if a man tries to get to the top by makin’ folks scared of each other and hate each other, he ain’t much.

And look what they do, Tondy! They want whites to hate blacks and Mexicans, and for north to hate south, and people what ain’t religious to hate religious folk, and then to hate all the towel heads – and they ain’t all bad. I know some an’ they is just like you an’ me.

What I’m sayin’ Tondy is that if you is Republican or Democrat, you both want the same thing. You want to control the American people and keep ‘em divided so they keep votin’ for you. You want to get rich off the people was is the workin’ poor. You want people to hate other Americans and even some what is not Americans, and to keep ‘em scared of towel heads, Mexicans, blacks, whites, an’ religious people, and if that is what you are about, you are a piece of trash.

And worser than that, if you decide to go out there and make it known, they try to make people scared of YOU! That is what they is doin’ to the Occupiers that we see on TV! I watch the news and I see that it is old people, young people, white people, black people, Mexican people, Chinese people, and then the rich folk say that it is just spoiled college kids that want money for nothin’. That is so plain Ray Charles could see it.

Occupiers look like America to me. They ain’t some [predator] freaks what consume they own kind. They just want things to be fair. So the rich guys send fake Occupiers in to pee on the streets and steal things and make the Occupiers look bad. That ain’t right neither. All of it is tryin’ to make people scared all the time, and I ain’t buyin’ into it. Not for a minute. I gotta get back to work.

Occupy Washington, DC - Doc Stevens’ Opinion

Saturday, January 21, 2012 1:57 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: The Occupy Movement in the US is in a sad situation. A sad situation for the people of the US, and ultimately for the government of the USA, I believe. I was discussing this with Doc after watching the scant coverage of it last weekend on the local Fox network from Washington DC. We also watched the coverage on NBC-4.

For some reason, the news media in the US cannot comprehend what Occupy is about. Even when the Occupiers articulate specifically what they are protesting, the American journalists seem to just not get it. And they SAY so. Doc and I discussed this and here are some highlights from that conversation.
Of course everyone knows that the American Constitution gives all citizens the right to protest, or assemble peaceably, but the police do not always see it that way. 

Doc: Well, Tondy, here’s what it’s about in my ‘pinion. You got the rich folks who is totally outta touch with the rest of us. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with makin’ money or getting’ rich because you’re makin’ somethin’ that people want to buy, or you’re helpin’ people in a big way and they reward you for it. Ain’t no one here mad about that.

What this is about, far as I am concerned is these are rich folk that make their money by buyin’ companies what wasn’t even for sale, but they bought up all the things called stocks so they controlled it. Then they sold off everything of value, an’ then sold what was left to another company. And all the workers there lost their jobs. But the first company what bought their company where they worked don’t care. They just wanted the money.

Now these folks ain’t got jobs, so they can’t pay the rent or the light bill or the car payment, so they are put out on the street and their car gets tooken away. That’s what some of ‘em is protestin’ about, and I don’t blame them one bit. It aint right.

Others have made big money by fore closin’ on peoples’ houses what they was tryin’ to buy, but then couldn’t pay for when they hours got cut down at the job, or they got laid off. So the banks take they houses, and lets ‘em sit empty rather than let the people what loved those houses be allowed to live in ‘em til things got better. 

So you got more people outta work an’ homeless, and no hope. But they’s house is sittin’ there empty and squirrels and possums and rats are livin’ in ‘em for free, and tearin’ ‘em up. That ain’t right neither.
Then we got them wars that ain’t right. Them people over there aint no threat to America. If they was, they’d be a threat to Canada and Mexico an’ Braazil an’ all the rest. So why do we think we gotta go over there an’ bomb the bejeezus outta they countries? 

I heard that some of them bombs we’re chuckin’ down over there is two million dollars apiece and some is three million dollars. And who pays for that? All these people over here what already can’t afford to live! What if they cut back by, say, 10 of them bombs a month? That would be… it’d be… uhhh…

Tondeleo: It would be twenty to thirty million a month, Doc. Good point.

Doc: Well, it would help a lot of people to pay off they houses or get ‘em back, and it would help a lot of businesses get back in business so people could work and spend money.

And if a man ain’t got nothin’ to do with his time, he’s gonna catch a bus up there to DC an’ make his voice be heard. 

When I finish up the couple of jobs I got in the shop, I’m gonna go up there myself. An’ I am takin’ my own little crowd with me.

Doc Stevens OccupiersWhat makes me mad is what I seen on TV, that the cops’ll come in an’ start sprayin’ people with pepper spray even though the people is just sittin’ there or ‘spressin’ they opinion. That ain’t American, Tondy. Ain’t American. 

I got some kids what is gonna protest with me an’ they ain’t care nothin’ about pepper spray! I got ‘em from in front of a buildin’ over to Virgina what was throwin’ ‘em out, an’ we got the preacher up to the church to help us letter ‘em up real good. I can Occupy anyplace I want now, Tondy! I am a one man protest!

I got a picture that Big Dave took of me last week when we was settin’ ‘em up to see how it would go. Put it in your blob about me.

Doc Stevens on Divorce and Marriage “Cancelling”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:03 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas
Tondeleo: I was going through some of my recordings of conversations with Doc Stevens, and ran across this one that I thought you would enjoy. 

It’s common for rural rednecks to misuse words because first of all, many of them are illiterate or at best, are poor readers who cannot spell well at all. Second, these are the same ones who don’t seem to listen all that well, so when you are talking, they may mishear you and substitute a word that you used for a word that they know.

Below is a classic situation like that where Doc talks about a friend of his who was going to get divorced.

Doc: My buddy Ralph an’ his ole lady been fightin’ and she was ‘cusing him of cheatin.’ Now he ain’t ever cheated on her ‘cause he’s too ugly but she don’t think so, an’ also she thinks that just ‘cause he plays guitar that all the women want him. But Ralph ain’t like that. He ain’t had that many girlfriends afore he met Shirl, an’ he ain’t had any since then, mostly cause he’s ‘fraid of her goin’ all buck wild on him if he ever did get one.

Then, if Ralph happens to go to church with her, she’s tryin’ to get him to go to the altar at the end of the service to repent of cheatin’ on her, when he ain’t even done it! An’ he ain’t gonna lie to the good Lord, just to get Shirl to shut up.

Shirl’s done told all the women in the church that Ralph got a rovin’ eye, and that made things worse, really. One of them prophesied that he was gonna leave Shirl an’ the kids, so now Shirl thinks it’s a done deal, unless the Lord works a miracle. 

Another problem what makes her like that is she picked up a lot of weight over the years so now she’s real o’beast. Ralph ain’t like o’beast women, he likes ‘em small, so Shirl’s real touchy ‘bout that.

Anyway, she been naggin’ Ralph so much he decided he wanted to get divorced. Shirl ain’t want no divorce so she was tellin’ him how the lawyers was gonna take everything he had, his tractor, his truck, his guns, his guitar, all of it. So Ralph got pretty scared. He don’t even have enough money for a lawyer.

She said it would take a year for them to get divorced anyway. So Ralph was scared, an’ didn’t want to wait  year. He asked her if they was any other way, and she said, yeah, they could go see a marriage canceller.

She told him a canceller was cheaper and would only be about six months and wouldn’t take his truck and guns and guitar. But Ralph would have to pay outta pocket. He took a couple of his guns over to the pawn shop at White Plains, an’ got enough cash to see the canceller a couple times.

Anyway, Tondy, they went to see the canceller. Ralph told him how he ain’t really want to lose everything, an’ all he wanted was out.

The canceller acted like he wasn’t that interested in cancelling their marriage! Ralph said he told Ralph to quit makin’ hog noises whenever Shirl was goin’ for the last piece of pie, and to quit callin’ her Hoss an’ Tubby O’Lard, an’ names like that.

He told' Ralph that him and Shirl needed to come back once a week for six months. So Ralph asked if at the end of it the marriage would be cancelled, an’ the canceller said that he hoped at the end of six months, they’d be happily married!

Tondy, if that marriage cancellin’ aint a racket, I don’t know what is, do you? I told Ralph he might as well just quit seein’ the canceller an’ ignore all them mean things Shirl been sayin’ to him. Don’t ever waste your money on marriage cancellin’ cause it don’t work.